Facadism in London: Greengate House, Newham

greengate-house-plaistow-london (Image: Ade Oshineye (website: oshineye.com), cc-nc-nd-3.0)

For several years, Greengate House in London looked as though it had been forgotten and left to decay. In 2010, the main structure was demolished and the first 6 meters of its ornate facade and grand front rooms were restored to shelter newly built homes, complimenting the urban landscape.

greengate-house-plaistow-london-2 (Image: Alexandra Smith, all rights reserved)

A fine example of facadism, Greengate House started life as Plaistow’s YMCA Red Triangle Club in 1921. Despite being a purpose built venue with a gymnasium, theatre and swimming pool, the club struggled through the 1940s and was sold in 1956. The luxurious building spent some time as offices for the Northeast London Polytechnic and became the University of East London’s art college when the institution gained university status in 1992.

Greengate House, designed by notable architects Levitt Bernstein, now boasts 64 new ‘key worker’ apartments, while the original basement swimming pool was replaced with a 36 space car park. The development cost around £9 million to complete and won several awards in 2011, including ‘Best Design’ in the Affordable Home Ownership Awards.

greengate-house-plaistow-london-3 (Image: Alexandra Smith, all rights reserved)

Hidden behind the locally listed front stone walls is a landscaped courtyard, a biomass boiler and a sedum-based roof, which all help to make the development green. Also included in the project is a low-rise mews block, which replaced the old college car park at the rear of the site.

Hopefully, the abandoned West Ham Electric Lighting and Tramway Committee Offices directly opposite Greengate House will experience a similar restoration.

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