Wednesday, 28 August 2013
One Kemble Street: The Sixties Space House
When in London last week, I turned off the Aldwych into Kingsway and caught a glimpse of this familiar building. I knew it from the nineties, when I was attending an evening class in the area at CityLit.
Completed in 1966 One Kemble Street used to be called the Space House and was designed by Richard Seifert, whose buildings included hotels, railways stations and office blocks. He was known for his 1960s and 1970s designs and for having been a big influence on London architecture during that period. According to scryscrapernews.com Seifert “originally designed the building to be a proper tower almost twice as high that would have served as a luxury hotel, but objections from Camden Council saw it reduced in height to what has been built today.” I actually like its stubbiness and don’t think doubling its height would have added anything to its aesthetic.
While Seifert is most famous for Centrepoint (which I also like), and the Natwest Tower, now called Tower 42 (my favourite London building), there is something about the smallness of the Space House that makes it more subtle and less ‘grand’ than the other two buildings. It’s like the difference between a sinewy Greyhound and a stocky Corgi. Both are lovely, and you wouldn’t reject the Corgi simply because it is small.
The Sound of the Sixties: Brutalist Architecture