The Brunswick Centre was built in 1967-1972 – originally intended as a mixed-use development with a shopping centre and cinema below, and private residential accommodation above. Crucially, all of our additions have been sympathetic and simple, suggesting the estate, which has provoked debate about modernist housing for thirty years, was more than fit for purpose from the outset. The concrete had been left unpainted due to cost-cutting measures and had badly deteriorated. The original vision for the estate had not been realised, leaving it unpopular and unappreciated.The Brunswick Centre is a pioneering low-rise, high-density, inner-city neighbourhood, designed by Patrick Hodgkinson (with the help of a young David Levitt and David Bernstein) in the 1960s. Registered in England and Wales: No.1960584. Registered office: Thane Studios, 2-4 Thane Villas, London N7 7PAIt became clear that successful retail outlets were required to keep the struggling Centre aliveHousing above the commercial uses has been carefully restoredHowever, by the turn of the century, the Brunswick was severely run-down. Each apartment also has an angled, glazed balcony running across the back of the living space, providing plenty of natural light and connection to the outside world.The photograph above shows a model of the original proposal, with the complex extending as far as Tavistock Place to the north and the covered shopping centre.This model is part of the Patrick Hodgkinson archive, which is made up of drawings, manuscripts, photographs and architectural models.66 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD | +44(0)20 7580 5533 |With a change of government in 1964, new laws were passed requiring compensation for evicted tenants, including those who were forced to leave to make way for the Brunswick development, making the planned scheme unrealistic. Hodgkinson’s solution was to create housing in two rows, harking back to the Georgian terraced houses that originally stood on the site, but with a shopping street running down in the centre.However, the original ambition to provide multiple housing types ranging from penthouses to hostels for local medical students was rejected by Camden who only wanted bedsits plus one and two-bed apartments. It replaced a few overcrowded terraces of Georgian houses on the estate of the Foundling Hospital. Hodgkinson’s envisioned the Brunswick as a "modern, London village" with family homes, shops, a cinema and even a health centre. Together, these interventions encourage conviviality and ensure that the centre is animated both day and night.An early concept sketch of our design proposalsOver the years, this modernist icon had fallen into disrepairThe repair and restoration of a modernist icon, and the reanimation of an inner-London neighbourhood. Sources. Plans for renovation had repeatedly been blocked by residents' committees but in November 2002, the £22 million project began. This included the painting of the blocks in their originally-planned colour and the commissioning of artist Susanna Heronto introduce water features to the centra… Further concessions, with the insistence of cheap, quick construction by the developers, led to the final executed scheme being heavily compromised. Based on earlier studies carried out by the London County Council’s former chief architect Leslie Martin, the project was taken on by the young architect Patrick Hodgkinson who was working in the Martin office.The original brief was to design accommodation with the same density as two tower blocks but without exceeding the 80ft height limit. Interior circulation space ©Brecht Einzig/Patrick Hodgkinson, images featured in 1972 Architectural ReviewThe renewal of the Brunswick has been hugely successful. The estate, which is Grade II listed, was a heroic prototype for a holistic community, integrating housing, shopping, a medical centre, cinema and office space in a single development.New landscape elements are integrated with a lighting scheme to complement the public space strategyWorking with Patrick Hodgkinson, LB Camden asked us to restore, repair and improve the Brunswick – going beyond refurbishment to create a new inner city destination, with retail, leisure and commercial facilities for visitors as well as residents. Bunswick Centre, Bloomsbury, London, Architectural Review, October 1972, pp 196-218.
Indeed, with the repairs made, Patrick Hodgkinson now expects the Brunswick ‘to go on another couple of hundred years’.At the heart of the estate, the shopping street has been upgraded – the retail units have been enlarged and the shop fronts extended to provide more attractive spaces for retailers, whilst tensile membrane canopies offer shoppers protection from the weather. We were tasked with bringing it back to its original, modernist best, all the while working around the daily lives of its residents.Shops and restaurants have created a destination within central London... providing useful local amenity for residentsA new supermarket sits within the centre...The landscaping around the scheme has been totally overhauled. But it wasn't to be.Despite being unpopular with some who dislike its radical modernist architecture, the Brunswick Centre was awarded Grade II status in 2000 and six years later was finally restored and given the coat of paint that Hodgkinson had always intended.The Brunswick Centre is a mixed development of housing, leisure and retail units, completed in 1972. The Brunswick Centre is a mixed development of housing, leisure and retail units, completed in 1972. By this time, however, many of its shop premises were unoccupied.
Many of the shops were empty, the housing leaked, and the plaza at the centre was underused and neglected.