From Stanley Cohen House

Here is the view from a top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

View from Stanley Cohen House, 7″ x 10″ in Sketchbook 9

You can see right across the estate to buildings on the far side of the Goswell Road. That’s Basterfield House on the right, and Crescent House in the middle, with the scalloped roof.

Here are some maps:

“Outdoors Room” arrowed.

In the centre of this drawing is one of the features I particularly admire in the Golden Lane Estate. There is an “outdoors room” at Podium Level integrated into the Leisure Centre. The space feels like a room: it is roughly square and has a roof. On one side are glass windows which overlook the swimming pool, and on the other side the windows look down into the indoors exercise space. I feel sure that the architects in the 1970s anticipated that this outdoors space would be used for Yoga, or Martial Arts, or perhaps storytelling. They might have envisaged yoga mats, bean bags. It seems to me to be so clearly part of the Leisure Centre, that it must have been intended for a group exercise of some sort. It is now well maintained, but not used (as far as I can tell), except as a transit route. I drew a picture from there.

There was also an “outdoor room” on the way to the top floor flat in Stanley Cohen House, as well as splendid outdoor walkways with long views out to the west.

“Outdoor Room” on the top floor of Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate.

This generosity with public, communal and informal spaces seems to me to characterise a certain view of society, in which people would want to meet, improvise, and interact with strangers and neighbours. There is a certain value placed on “empty” and unallocated space: it represents “possibility” offered to residents, who may have better ideas than the architects about how to use their space. This shows humility and humanity in the design. A vacant outdoor room represents an invitation to residents and passers-by: “come in, make of this what you will, do something here”. There is a space in which to pause and breathe. It is very different from the modern developments, such as the Atlas Building or Eagle Point, whose stark vertical walls cut off the Outside from the Inside. Every square inch has an allocated use. The architects have decided in advance which space is to be a “lounge” or a “cinema” or a “gym”. There is no “empty” communal space. The designers have decided in advance what you will do here.

I applaud the empty spaces and white-walled “outdoor rooms” in the Golden Lane estate, just as I value the huge areas of unadorned public space in the Barbican: they are places in which your mind is free. Long may they remain.

I perhaps had these thoughts because I was drawing my picture from an empty unfurnished flat. I was kindly given access by the owner, while the flat was being redecorated between tenants. Here is work in progress on my drawing.

The main colours in this picture are: Phthalo Blue Turquoise (W&N), Prussian Blue (Jacksons), Perylene Maroon (DS), Mars Yellow (DS), plus Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS) for the balconies on Basterfield House, and a small bit of Green Gold (DS) on the lighter parts of the tree.

Here are tools:

Here is a list of the drawings I have done in the Golden Lane Estate:

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Bayer House – North and South

Here is Bayer House, on the Golden Lane Estate. This is the view from the South.

Bayer House, Golden Lane Estate, from the South, 9 inches by 12 inches [SOLD]

The building on the right is the Golden Lane Community Centre. It was in active use as I drew the picture. There is a food bank outside, and a lot of activity inside. For more information on the tree which is to the left of the picture, see this post. It was planted on the 9th December 1989.

I drew this picture from a position close to Great Arthur House. People from the Community Centre came and had a look at my drawing. One of them very kindly came and brought me a chair. If you look inside the community centre you can see those kind people behind the window.

The van.

I was a good way into the drawing when a van drew up, right in my line of sight. I finished the parts of the drawing at the top of the building, and to the sides of the building. A good hour had elapsed, but the van was still there. I really needed to draw that part of the building which was behind the van. The driver, dimly visible through the windscreen, was asleep, or may be just resting. Having carefully considered the pros and cons, and the social acceptability of asking a potentially exhausted van driver to move, and the likely consequences, I got up from my chair and walked over to the van in what I hoped was a polite and respectful manner. The van driver was awake, and immediately understood my request. “No problem!” he declared without hesitation, and with extraordinary consideration asked me “Where would you like me to park?”. I indicated an empty slot far over to the other side of the Community Centre. He climbed out of his van, and went into a door under Great Arthur House to confer with “The Office”. “The Office” having been brought onside, he jumped back into the van and made off into the middle distance waving cheerily. I wish all problems were solved so easily.

Here is work in progress:

This was a commission. For the same commission I also made a drawing of the North side of the same building.

Bayer House, North side, 12 inches by 9 inches [SOLD]

For more information about Bayer House, including maps, see this post.

Both drawings on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper block, 12 inches by 9 inches.

Here is a collection of my drawings of the Golden Lane Estate:

Golden Lane Leisure Centre – South

On Golden Lane Estate there is a Leisure Centre in the Modernist style. Its roof floats on slender columns, and there are huge windows so you can see the activity inside.

Here’s a view of the south end. The tree is in the garden in front of Basterfield House.

I drew this picture sitting on the paving stones outside Cullum Welch House. This was the location I’d chosen, because from that precise spot I could see the Atlas Building in the gap between Basterfield House and Great Arthur House. It’s a huge empty space. A woman walked past me, intrigued by my equipment spread around. She looked critically at the plastic carrier bag I was using to insulate myself from the concrete. “I’m glad to see you are sitting on something,” she told me. “My mother used to say you should not sit on cold concrete or you would get…now what was it you would get?” Since this woman was herself somewhat elderly, I was guessing that the advice from her mother dated way back into the previous century. We smiled at each other, thinking of mothers. She walked away, puzzling over what it was that her mother had been concerned about. I continued my drawing, thinking about advice from mothers, and how it endured.

A day or so later, I made a sketch in the evening, looking the other way.

It was evening, and very cold. This time I was standing up, looking West, as the sky dimmed.

Here is a collection of my sketches in the Golden Lane Estate.

Bayer House, Golden Lane Estate

I drew Bayer House from a quiet spot above the Leisure Centre. Bayer House is the brick building on the right. The white building in the centre is Peabody Tower, on the Peabody Estate, the other side of Golden Lane.

In the background, you see the “HYLO” tower on Bunhill Row, under construction.

Bayer House (right), Golden Lane Estate.

Bayer House is three rows of 2 storey maisonettes: like three terraced streets, stacked. The brick walls are pink brinks with pink mortar: very pink. The architects are Chamberlain, Powell and Bon.

I drew this picture from the podium level, one storey up. In the sunken playground area, children played. I could hear their voices below me, and caught an occasional glimpse as they dashed into my field of view. Then I heard another noise, a rhythmic beat or clunk. I thought the children must have some kind of percussive instrument that they were playing with, like two large rocks. May be they were slapping two boxing gloves together. Then their voices opened into greetings. Just at that moment, two enormous police horses came into view, walking at my level. The police officers had paused their mounts, and were waving to the children below. I called out a hello, and then the police officers saw me too. “Hey look, there’s someone drawing!” They moved their horses on, hoofs clip-clopping on the concrete, very loud, and now, of course, utterly distinctive.

Many of the blocks on the Golden Lane Estate are named for councillors or other officials of the City of London who were in post at the time the Estate was under construction. But I could not find a “Bayer”. “Hatfield”, of “Hatfield House” which I drew previously, was also not to be found in the lists. After a long search, the marvellous London Metropolitan Archives turned up the answer. Hatfield St, and parts of Basterfield St, were subject of a compulsory purchase order in 1954. Bayer St, Great and Little Arthur Street, and the intriguing “Hot Water Court” were compulsorily purchased in 1951. So these houses are named after streets. More searching revealed the maps, see below. You see the former Bayer St in approximately the position of Bayer House, and Great Arthur St where Great Arthur House is now. Hatfield House and Basterfield House are also in the position of their corresponding streets. There is still a vestige of Basterfield St north of Basterfield House. Click to enlarge the maps below.

The colours in this picture are Fired Gold Ochre (DS), Phthalo Turquoise (W&N), Mars Yellow(DS), Buff Titanium (DS), and Perylene Maroon (DS). There a bit of Transparent Pyrrol Orange (DS) in the tree and the balconies of Bayer House. It was very cold and the colours did not dry which is why they are a bit blurry.

The collection of my Golden Lane Estate drawings is here:

Hatfield House, Golden Lane Estate

This is Hatfield House, at the North side of the Golden Lane Estate, EC1.

Hatfield House, Golden Lane Estate, 12″x9″ watercolour [SOLD]

The arches in the middle of the picture are above the Golden Lane Leisure Centre, which is closed at the moment. You can just see the blue vending display, which has goggles and other items for use in the swimming pool.

While I was drawing the picture, I caught movement in the side of my vision. A man appeared below me, indoors, by the side of the swimming pool. I looked at him through the window. He was fully dressed, with covers over his shoes, stirring a bucket with a long pole. After a long period of patient stirring, he poured the contents of the bucket into the swimming pool. Then he refilled the bucket, set it on the edge of the pool, and started stirring again. At that point I stopped watching and resumed my drawing. When I looked back again, he had gone.

This picture was drawn for a commission. I made a preliminary drawing, and various sketches. Here is work in progress. The big challenge was to get the perspective lines right, to show the depth and distance.

This drawing was done on 29th September 2020.

Here are more sketches in the Golden Lane Estate:

Crescent House, Golden Lane Estate

A resident of Crescent House commissioned me to draw his block.

Crescent House – 12″x9″ original watercolour (SOLD)

This is a view from the podium level, above the Golden Lane Leisure centre. The block on the left is Cullum Welch House. The yellow colour in the centre is a reflection of Great Arthur House in the windows of Crescent House.

Map showing the view of Crescent House in the drawing (North is on the right)

The pavement by the wall was being re-laid. Just off the picture, to the right, people who were laying the paving stones sang merry tunes, and insulted each other. “Dean, I don’t believe how long that’s taken you. It’s a five minute job!”

Dean was moving the metal fencing around, making a sound like a drum roll. They needed to reconfigure their enclosure as they finished one section of paving and moved onto the next. I didn’t catch Dean’s repost, but the answer was, “No…no.. it’s just because you are lazy….”

Here is work in progress on this final drawing. It is made on a block of Saunders Waterford Hot Press 300gsm paper.

I made some preliminary drawings a few days previously, to get my head around the composition and the perspective challenges.

At the bottom left of the sketch is that strange sloping block. It is pointed. I didn’t get the whole of it in the sketch as it is so fascinating that it would have distracted from the main object of the drawing which is Crescent House. But it is worthy of examination. It looks like a tank trap. But what is it doing there? There are two of them.

As you see they are wonderful sculptural objects, worthy of a drawing in their own right.

Probably they are to stop people from sitting on that convenient ledge.

Great Arthur House and Cullum Welch House

I found a good viewpoint at Podium level, underneath Crescent House. At ground level a woman ran circuits of the tennis courts. After a while she started doing interval training: running up and down the stairs near where I was standing. Then she came and asked if she could see the picture.

Great Arthur House and Cullum Welch House, Golden Lane Estate, from Crescent House.

Cullum Welch House is named for Sir George James Cullum Welch O.B.E., M.C. He was Sheriff of London, then knighted, then Lord Mayor of London in 1956, which was when the Golden Lane Estate was being built. He was knighted in the 1952 New Year Honours. He served in the army in 1914-18 and 1939-45 conflicts, and gained the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

Cullum Welch House and Great Arthur House, together with other buildings in the Golden Lane Estate are listed Grade II. The listing was in December 1997. Here is an extract from the listing on the Historic England site.

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Cullum Welch House, part of the Golden Lane Estate, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

* Architectural interest: as a self-sufficient ‘urban village’, in which every element of space is accounted for and every detail carefully considered, the Golden Lane Estate has claim to be the most successful of England’s housing developments from the early 1950s.

* Planning interest: the estate reflects the formality, mixed with picturesque attention to landscape, which was emerging in British architecture in the early 1950s, this saw the spaces between the buildings being almost as important as the buildings themselves.

The strong formality of the estate became a key characteristic of the work of Chamberlin, Powell and Bon, as did the provision of a wide range of facilities on the site other than just housing. These are features that can also be seen at their Barbican development.

Here’s the description of Great Arthur House from the Historic England website:

Great Arthur House was built in 1953-7 from reinforced concrete. The 17 floor building was the first to break the London County Council’s 100 ft height restriction and was briefly the tallest inhabited building in England. The flats were designed for single people and couples such as nurses and policemen who had to live near their work. The architects for the estate were Chamberlin, Powell and Bon.

It was cold when I drew the picture, 10 degrees C. I wore a hat and gloves. Here are photos of work in progress, and a map.

This picture took about two hours overall, plus 15 minutes for the preliminary sketch.

The colours are Perylene Maroon and Prussian Blue, which make the grey tones, plus Hansa Yellow Mid which is the exact colour of the yellow cladding on Great Arthur House.

Here is a collection of my recent drawings of the Golden Lane Estate. Click on the picture to read more about the picture.

Stanley Cohen House, Golden Lane Estate

I sat near the Community Centre and looked East.

Stanley Cohen House, on the East side of the Golden Lane Estate. Peabody House in the background.

I enjoyed the bold statement of the vertical yellow rubbish chute, visible above the balconies.

There were many plants on people’s balconies. I didn’t draw them all. Many people had window boxes, with geraniums and trailing leaves. On the upper floor, a length of camouflage netting hung across the balcony. You can just see it towards the middle of the picture. Then there were the three rose bushes, sketched in the foreground. All the while, the fountain played. There were lilies in the pond.

Stanley Cohen was chairman of the City of London public health committee in 1954. His name appears on the almost-indecipherable Foundation stone on Bowater House, near where I did this drawing.

Here is work in progress and a map.

This drawing is 25cm by 16cm, 10 inches by 6½ inches on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper. It took 1½ hours. After a preliminary sketch, shown in the gallery above, I started work on this drawing at 14:30 and finished at 16:00. The colours are Fired Red Ochre, Mars Yellow, Perylene Maroon, and Phthalo Turquoise, over De Atramentis document black ink.

Here is a collection of my drawings of the Golden Lane Estate:

Basterfield House, Golden Lane Estate

Yesterday I drew Basterfield House, sitting on some steps in the shadow of Great Arthur House.

Basterfield House is at the North of the Golden Lane Estate. Here is a map. Great Arthur House was over my right shoulder, and cast its huge shadow in the afternoon sun.

Sketch map showing the view shown in the drawing.

Behind the tree, the low-rise block is Stanley Cohen House. In the background of the drawing is the Atlas Building, just to the left of the tree. On the right of the tree is the architect’s practice at 88 Golden Lane.

88 Golden Lane

Today was a glorious sunny day. I walked out into the sun and everywhere was worthy of a sketch. Here is 88 Golden Lane, a strange thin building. It is an architects’ practice: Blair Architecture. I sketched this standing on the side of the road in the sun, then retreated to sit on my case … Continue reading “88 Golden Lane”

This drawing is 25cm by 16cm, 10 inches by 6½ inches on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper. It took 1½ hours. I did a preliminary sketch first, shown in the work-in-progress photos below. The colours are Fired Gold Ochre, Phthalo Turquoise, Transparent Pyrrol Orange, and Mars Yellow, watercolours over De Atramentis document black ink.

I have drawn the Golden Lane Estate before. Here is a selection of drawings in this area:

Eglwys Jewin, the Welsh Church, from Golden Lane Estate

On a glorious sunny Sunday, the sun lit up the roof of the Welsh Church.

Eglwys Jewin, the Welsh Church, from Golden Lane Estate.

This is the view from the Golden Lane Estate. Here is a map, and an annotated image to show which building is which. The arrow on the map shows the direction I was looking.

I was sitting next to a beech tree, Fagus Sylvatica Dawyck. A small notice at the base of the tree informed me that it has been planted on the 9th December 1989, to commemorate 800 years of the Lord Mayoralty. By co-incidence, this is the same anniversary that was commemorated by the bollard in my previous post. Here is a picture of the planting ceremony, kindly provided by Billy Mann from his Golden Lane Archive.

Fagus Sylvatica Dawyck, Beech Tree on the Golden Lane Estate, being planted.
Photo courtesy of Patsy Cox and used with permission. The photographer was standing almost exactly where I sat to draw my picture.

The tree has grown strongly in the last 30 years. It surges out of its metal hoops, and pushes the notice aside.

The Golden Lane Estate is a busy place. Many people passed by on the nearby paths. The tree and I were on a raised area, above parked cars. Some people were on foot, one was in a wheelchair, and there were several groups of cyclists. One person had a dog. This was a small dog, the same size as my sketchbook. I can say that with certainty, because, while the person was occupied on their mobile phone, the dog dashed onto my dais and plonked itself foursquare on my sketchbook. What to do?

I must have shouted out, because the person looked up briefly from their phone. I glared at the person, and shooed the dog away. The person uttered a perfunctory ‘sorry’ and continued their conversation. “No, no, it’s alright,” they said into the phone, “it’s just that Tabatha…”. They didn’t ask me if it was alright. I looked down at my drawing. It was alright.

I have drawn this church before. It was built in the 1960s. More information about this interesting building is on my previous posts:

This drawing took two hours. It is 25cm by 16cm, 10 inches by 6½ inches on Arches 300gsm watercolour paper. The main colours are Fired Gold Ochre, Mars Yellow, Phthalo Turquoise, and Perylene Maroon, with some Prussian Blue for the shadows.

This is the wonderful three dimensional map of the Golden Lane Estate, which is on the South end of Stanley Cohen House on Golden Lane. It has West at the top because that’s the direction you are facing when you are looking at the map.