Logo

Modernist marvel: a socialist dream and a slice of history

PUBLISHED: 15:30 20 March 2017

The Modernist marvel at Highpoint I

The Modernist marvel at Highpoint I

Noga Photo Studio

This historic housing block was revered by the modernist masters when it was built, and it’s back on the market for a modern price tag

The swimming pool at Highpoint I has the feel of a 1930s poolside romance in the Hollywood hills The swimming pool at Highpoint I has the feel of a 1930s poolside romance in the Hollywood hills

Picture this; gloomy clouds of depression hover over London, unemployment is at an all time high and as dole queues grow, more pins are added to the great drawing board of the Welfare State as National Governments try desperately to resolve the bubbling crisis. The Great War is relegated to the back of your mind as rousing headlines reach our shores warning of a renegade group stirring up trouble in Germany.

This is 1930s Britain. Yet even in the throes of the Great Depression there were a few points of respite from the tumult. Consumer goods were more plentiful than ever before; cars, televisions and vacuum cleaners were bought on hire-purchase, Humphrey Bogart filled the big screen and the salty seaside air called you away for a holiday.

The reception area inside the flat, which is on the market with Goldschmidt & HowlandThe reception area inside the flat, which is on the market with Goldschmidt & Howland

Inside the home, change was brewing. With three million new electricity equipped homes, the inter-war period was a boom time for building. Gone were the Gothic spires of Victorian homes, away with the Queen Anne Revival’s delicately feminine lines, the aftermath First World War necessitated a new style, a more analytical and rational approach to building for a city half flattened by war.

Nearly a century on, Modernism is very much back in vogue. In the past few months we’ve featured a modernist Camden mews house and a renowned 1950s Highgate housing estate. Now a new flat in the famed 1930s modernist block Highpoint I is on the market, and it’s not the first time we’ve got all excited about that block.

The interior of the kitchen at Highpoint IThe interior of the kitchen at Highpoint I

Designed by Berthold Lubetkin, who was also responsible for housing estates in Clerkenwell and Islington, not to mention the famous penguin pool and gorilla house at London Zoo, the apartments were designed for local workers. Hailing from Georgia, the immigrant architect and his firm, Tecton, designed buildings that became iconic, thanks to their trademark asymmetry and cubic shapes in minimal, open plan designs. Like many buildings of the tradition, Highpoint I features reinforced concrete, flat roofs and large, regular window patterns.

After the turbulence of the Great War and Russian Revolution, Modernism was conceived as the answer to transforming society. Lubetkin was a staunch supporter of the socialist movement. His work rejected ornamentalism and the example set by history in favour of abstraction, and became emblematic of the challenge to rigid class inequality. On completion of his Finsbury Park Health Centre, he said: “Nothing is too good for ordinary people.”

Modernist architecture took hold in 1930s inter-war BritainModernist architecture took hold in 1930s inter-war Britain

The first of two apartment blocks so named for being found at London’s highest point, Highpoint I was finished in 1935 and has ever since been celebrated for its introduction of the modernist style for London’s residential buildings. The leader of the Modernist movement Le Corbusier himself praised its design and construction.

The property was listed Grade I in 1970, by which point Brutalism well and truly dominated as the prevailing style of public housing.

If this brief history lesson has not been convincing enough to warrant an online wander through the hallways of this hallowed historic residence, then the flat itself surely will. A three bed property on the upper floor of the building, the apartment has one reception room and access to a communal garden watched over by a private balcony. Highpoint I benefits from a porter, pool and tennis court and enjoys a convenient Highgate location.

Abstracting ourselves for a moment from the dour days of 1930s Britain and the beacon of light that Lubetkin’s work represented, the architect would most likely be turning in his grave at the modern price tag of his once social housing project. At a cool £1,150,000, the cost of an apartment in Highpoint I is far removed from the few hundred pounds an average home cost in London’s inter-war market. That said, Lubetkin’s homes didn’t come with state of the art furnishings, fitted wardrobes or freedom from the threat of impending Nazi occupation.

North Hill, Highgate, N6 is marketed by Goldschmidt & Howland and is on the market for £1,150,000.

Property search


e.g. Oxford or NW3
Powered by Zoopla

Other Hampstead and Highgate property news

Fabulous flowers: top tips for growing compact clematis

Clematis are one of the most popular varieties of garden flower, so how can you get the best from your blooms?

Windy weather? Here’s five tips for wind turbines

Windy weather? Generating electricity for your home will be a breeze with these top tips for wind turbines

New launch: period living in Paddington with Parker House

Prices start at £570,000 for a one bedroom apartment in this boutique development in zone one

Pore over this: pour yourself a drink in the power couple property with a secret pièce de résistance

This NW8 property has a garden, roof terrace and a secret bar decked out for throwing one of Gatsby’s greatest bashes

Let there be light: a modern home illuminating the future of environmentally friendly living

This East Finchley property is not just innovative, it’s invisible. We take a nosey around the modern eco home.

Comment: communities need buy to live

Buy to leave apartments in new build developments convert corrupt cash into clean assets, decimating local communities in the process. So it’s heartening to see Highgate Court lead the way with homes for local people

Hampstead hotspot: young professionals flock to NW3

Hampstead is the ninth most popular choice for young urban professionals, and the most expensive choice on the list.

Hampstead area guide: shops, theatre, schools and the Heath

Your guide to things to do in Hampstead, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW3

Top 3 properties for sale in Hampstead

A modern apartment, three bedroom flat and four bedroom family home make the cut for our top three properties on the market in Hampstead this week

Will the snap general election affect the north London property market?

Theresa May has announced that the country will return to the polls on June 8 for the third summer running, but what will this mean for property sales in north London?

5 of the best spring cleaning buys

Dust away those cobwebs and ready your home for warmer days with these stylish spring cleaning products

Hot properties: on the market in Crouch End, Hampstead and Primrose Hill

Fancy a five bedroom family home, a contemporary apartment or a period flat? Take your pick of our top properties up for grabs this week

Property of the week: top to toe amenities in this modern three storey home

This West Hampstead home comes with its own private balcony up top and a wine cellar below, and a lot to offer in between

Searching for the gardens of Southwood Hall

Ruth Pavey goes in serach of the lost gardens of Southwood Hall, with a little help from some Highgate residents

Buzzing about bees: everything you need to know about the RHS’s new bee campaign

The RHS is collaborating with The Wildlife Trusts to bring wildlife enthusiasts new inspiration to protect our black and yellow friends

Spring Living: interiors for warmer weather

Lorraine Kelly knows all about spring style for your home. Here’s her top advice for spring interiors.

Take me to church: the chapel with a starring role in period drama ‘Call The Midwife’ is up for sale

Nonnatus House from BBC’s Call The Midwife can be all yours for £6 million

Shop of the month: handmade on the hill with Tash & Tanya

At a time when independent retailers are under threat, Tash & Tanya is a good news story of a local business going from strength to strength without compromising on handpicked style

No smoke without fire: are wood burning stoves environmentally friendly?

Debate around wood burning stoves is a hot topic. Supporters praise their carbon neutrality, whilst health-conscious activists blame them for rising smog. So who’s right? find out at The Highgate Society’s latest ‘eco homes’ event.

Hold that thought: inside the ‘national scandal’ of leasehold properties

Over 75 per cent of apartments in Hampstead are leasehold, whilst investors are cashing in by buying up freeholds in new builds throughout the capital. Here’s what you need to know about owning a leasehold property in north London

Tufnell Park area guide: schools, restaurants, station and the The Dome

Your guide to things to do in Tufnell Park, including the best shops, cafes, restaurants and schools. PLUS our guide to property in NW5, N7 and N19

Top 3 properties in Tufnell Park

Looking for a home in leafy Tufnell Park? Our top three features a Victorian family home, maisonette and a period flat

Comment: London and its landlords will not fall

In the face of the onslaught of regulations letting agents and landlords will have to learn to turn the other cheek, whilst London smiles in the face of Brexit

Easter feast: eleven essentials for putting on a stylish spring spread

The Easter bank holiday is one of the few times a year when family and friends gather to eat, drink and make merry for a long weekend. For top table this spring, here are eleven essentials you can’t go without

Tenant fees ban: have your say with the government’s new consultation paper

The government has released a consultation paper on the letting fees ban, after introducing ‘chaotic’ new measures for tackling rogue landlords

Hot Properties: Camden, Highgate and Crouch End’s top picks

This week we have hot property picks in Camden, Highgate and Crouch End

Strictly NW1: Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden Town home is up for sale

Craig Revel Horwood’s Camden home is up for sale. India Block talks to him at the home that Cameron Mackintosh lent him money to buy back in 1997 where he partied with showbiz friends such as Kelly Brook and played host to Strictly’s dancing pros

Tomorrowland tech: your guide to connecting your home to the Internet of Things

Smart homes are the eagerly anticipated sequel to smart phones, so what’s good, what’s bad and what’s ugly about the Internet of Things?

Comment: the PropTech boom is a chance for agents to show their humanity

Are robots coming for our jobs or will they save us all? As we work out what it means to be human in a digital age, estate agents should capitalise on their emotional intelligence to stay relevant

Property of the week: historic Hampstead Village home built by a 19th century cheesemonger

Hampstead cheesemonger William Benham built this Grade II listed Georgian home in 1813. Recently restored, it’s now on the market for £1.85 million

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

2016 © Archant Community Media Ltd

Terms and conditions | Cookie policy | Jobs at Archant