‘Sivill House is clearly valued’: Bethnal Green tower block receives listed status

PUBLISHED: 07:00 10 June 2020

Sivill House has been listed. Picture: Google

Sivill House has been listed. Picture: Google


A tower block designed by a pioneer of modern British architecture has been listed.

A model of Sivill House. Picture: Maltby.A model of Sivill House. Picture: Maltby.

Sivill House, a 20-storey residential building by Russell Skinner, Douglas Carr Bailey and Berthold Lubetkin for the old Bethnal Green Metropolitan Borough, has been listed at Grade II on Historic England’s advice.

Lubetkin’s biographer John Allan said: “The listing is hugely important, not only for its due recognition of this late work by Berthold Lubetkin, but also for ensuring the vigilance now essential in the conservation and upgrade of this exceptional building.”

Residents criticised Tower Hamlets Homes’ plans to carry out repair work to make sure the building complied with building regulations. The application was dropped in November.

Mark Sullivan, who applied for the listing on residents’ behalf, said: “We have been staggered at the support this application has generated.

Plans for Sivill House. Picture: B. Lubetkin/John AllanPlans for Sivill House. Picture: B. Lubetkin/John Allan

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“Sivill House is clearly valued as much by the general public as it is by those who live in it.”

Historic England’s report notes that Tower Hamlet Homes raised “a number of points” highlighting concerns over the practical and financial implications the listing might have on its ability to manage the building in line with regulations and statutory responsibilities.

But the public body concluded these were not things it could consider because they do not relate to the statutory listing criteria.

John Allan with Berthold Lubetkin in 1989. Picture: Catherine Shakespeare LaneJohn Allan with Berthold Lubetkin in 1989. Picture: Catherine Shakespeare Lane

Mr Allan and The Twentieth Century Society supported the application. The campaign group’s director Catherine Croft said: “It’s great news. Post-war housing as a group of buildings is under listed.”

Historic England’s report notes: “As the social housing programme of the post-war years recedes further into the past, the scale and ambition of what was achieved appears increasingly remarkable.

“Clearly not all of what was built served its cause well, so it is important that those that best did are recognised as exemplars in what has proved to be an exceptional period in the history of public housing. It is argued that Sivill House is such an exemplar”. Reasons given for listing include its façade’s sense of movement, its “skilful” handling of form, mass and detail and the “high quality” of communal areas.

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