The Cranbrook Estate with its distinctive green bosses and chaotic geometry, has persistently caught our eye from buses, on our walks, even while we’ve sat in our local park. Its sheer size might have something to do with it. Unlike the towers we’ve previously mentioned, this is an estate that contains two fifteen-storey blocks, 2 thirteen-storey blocks, two eleven storey-blocks as well as other lower rise dwellings.
The estate is arranged in considered geometry set along 2 diagonal axes. It looks different from every angle. Compared to many of London’s other estates, the Cranbrook is decorative bordering on ornate with its unique colour, design, arrangement and even the crowns that the towers wear. This is an estate with a big personality that evokes emotion whether you like it or you hate it…It still stares you down.
We could dwell on the architectural merits and minutiae of all the tower blocks that we visit but we don’t want to. We don’t want to be another blog reiterating the already established facts of the buildings and their architects. Architecture to us, is firstly and should always be about the people. Those who it was designed for and those that interact with it. It is personal by nature. After all, these are places where people live, laugh, cry and grow. So we will keep it personal and tell you how it feels to visit these places. How it feels to stand right there in the midst of the towers and the human touch we feel when we walk around
The Cranbrook can look and feel unwelcoming if you are not familiar with it. Perhaps the uninviting feel can be pinned down to the quantity and density of blocks and the maintenance issues that Tower Hamlets haven’t the finances to see to. For us, it was the way that shadows move in and amid the blocks that really resonated when we were there. Lubetkin designed them to be spaces apart and angled so that one face would always catch the sun and in turn, shadows would ‘rotate like spokes of a wheel’. It is quite captivating to experience the movement of the sun here for the first time.
For us, the Cranbrook Estate is not particularly beautiful to look at architecturally. However we cannot help but like it because it draws us in everytime. It is captivating. It is visually chaotic. It reminds us of a colony of insects. It has grown on us.
The architect, Berthold Lubetkin was one of the most important figures in the Modern Movement of Britain. He co-founded the famous Tecton architectural practice from which he pioneered Modernist architecture in post-war London.
| Cranbrook Estate Info |
– Architect Berthold Lubetkin
– 6 high rise towers the tallest of which are 15 stories.
– Comprises of over 500 homes.
– Completed in 1966. This was Lubetkins final completed work.
– Faces the Greenways Estate and Sulkin House.
– London Borough of Tower Hamlets
| Links For The Curious |
The aerial view photos of the Cranbrook Estate from 1965