Reviled by many, Sixties architecture is rarely considered worthy enough to preserve when a chance to redevelop arises. Even some heritage lobbyists prefer the bulldozer. But as the decades pass, is age beginning to confer beauty? Beaufoy School in Lambeth has become one of the first such London buildings to be listed, as part of scheme to convert it into homes.
Built between 1962 and 1964, the school's design was inspired by the modern movement, which represented a shift away from traditional forms of construction and embodied a new social theory of architecture moulded to meet the needs of the "common" people in the machine age.
From unloved to cherished
Trellick Tower, the Brutalist high-rise block of flats in North Kensington, and the concrete Barbican complex in the City, hail from this period, too, and are further examples of once-unloved buildings that have have come to be admired, even cherished.
Beaufoy School, later renamed Lilian Baylis, after the Old Vic theatre producer, opened as a comprehensive, and its sparse layout of low-rise teaching blocks, circular assembly hall and "amenity space" captured the egalitarian spirit of the age.
The 3.2-acre site borders fabled Lambeth Walk (postcode SE11) and is so close to the Palace of Westminster that it falls within the parliamentary Division Bell area. It will become a new community of 149 homes, 40 per cent of which will be "affordable", ranging from one-bedroom flats to four-bedroom townhouses, with prices from £275,000 to £800,000. Completion is scheduled for 2015. Call Henley Homes on 020 7401 8777.
As with Victorian schools and colleges, which have been a significant source of new homes for 30 years, conversion of this Sixties school promises spectacular loft-style apartments in the original teaching blocks. Plus there will be new-build "courtyard" properties in extensively re-landscaped grounds.
"Our design approach has been received favourably by English Heritage — the challenge is to bring back to life these historic modern buildings and create the right mix of housing," says Lee Davis, director of architect Conran & Partners.
Henley Homes has completed an infill project of townhouses on a nearby plot. The properties sold fast, proving there is an appetite for homes in this so-central inner-city area, which undoubtedly is on the up. The school sits in a classic urban setting — amid prewar and postwar council estates as well as the Duchy of Cornwall Estate, a collection of neo-Georgian cottages built in the early 20th century.
Sound of the bells
Here, too, is the listed Beaufoy Institute, a splendid Victorian building. Once an educational establishment then redundant for years, it was recently acquired by a Buddhist charity for a community facility. The car park has been bought by developer Bellway for a residential scheme.
On Black Prince Road, Telford Homes is building a residential tower called Parliament House. Call 0800 883 8243. This development is moments from Albert Embankment, a much swankier address where the best river-facing apartments sell for millions of pounds. Wandle Housing Association is active in this area and offers homes for rent and shared ownership, including a scheme called Alta Vista on Old Paradise Street, just back from the Thames by Lambeth Palace. Call 0800 731 2030.
Fire Brigade headquarters to be turned into flats
The former London Fire Brigade headquarters is to be redeveloped into a mixed-use scheme with 265 apartments, including shared-ownership homes. Renamed Florian Place, the listed frontage will remain, with new blocks and a piazza created behind. Call Native Land on 020 7349 7228.
Neglected pockets remain on Kennington's border with Vauxhall. The patch around Vauxhall Street is quite run-down and has an edgy feel, showing the area still has some way to go. But tell-tale signs of gentrification include a popular German gastropub called The Zeitgeist and reincarnated railway arches that have become restaurants and retail spaces.