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Greater London, Westminster, Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks, Married Quarters, Tower (Block F)

Barracks (Period Unassigned), Married Quarters (Modern)

Site Name Greater London, Westminster, Hyde Park Cavalry Barracks, Married Quarters, Tower (Block F)

Classification Barracks (Period Unassigned), Married Quarters (Modern)

Alternative Name(s) Knightsbridge Barracks; Hyde Park Barracks

Canmore ID 286800

Site Number TQ27NE 12.06

NGR TQ 2733 7971

Datum OSGB36 - NGR

Permalink http://canmore.org.uk/site/286800

Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Not Applicable
  • Parish Westminster
  • Former Region Greater London
  • Former District Westminster
  • Former County Greater London

Sir Basil Spence

Building Notes

The Married Quarters tower block (Block F) provides accommodation, spread over 28 floors, for 111 soldiers, their families and a caretaker. Each floor is made up of three two bedroom flats and one three bedroom flat. The smaller flats have a dining recess off their kitchens while in the larger flats the dining area is provided off the living room.

The tower proved to be the most controversial element of Spence's barracks design. Rising to just over 310ft, there were concerns that it would overshadow the adjacent Hyde Park. A few other tall buildings had already been erected around the park’s perimeter and fears were that the land would become hemmed in like Central Park in New York. Spence, however, pointed out that housing the required number of families in a lower building would have resulted in a dense cliff-like block, which would have been much less satisfactory solution in design terms, being more obtrusive in its context.

Archive Details

The drawings in the Sir Basil Spence Archive include details for the top of the tower, which was designed to promote correct conditions for the dispatch of flue gases. The drawings also show how Spence made use of this space by designing two squash courts within the huge reinforced concrete framework. The archive contains alternative designs for the block including a cruciform plan and housing the officer’s mess on the top floors.

The Archive includes photographs of the flats shortly after completion that show how the flats were originally kitted out with furniture and accessories provided by the army.

Despite the debate over the height of the tower block, the Archive includes positive press coverage relating to the quality of the accommodation provided for the soldiers and their families and includes interviews with some of the first residents.

Archive Summary

The Sir Basil Spence Archive holds 973 drawings, which relate specifically to the tower block. These give a good impression of the tower’s development and changes made to its design as the project progressed. The building is also shown on a number of drawings for the whole scheme. The Archive holds 182 manuscript folders and 809 photographs relating to Hyde Park Calvary Barracks. The photographs include a series of construction photographs, taken month-by-month, of the whole site.

This text was written as one of the outputs of the Sir Basil Spence Archive Project, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, 2005-08.

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