Perimeter block
Dorset House
Bennett, T.P. & Joseph Emberton | London, Great Britain | 1935
Image of Dorset ...
Facade along Glenworth Street

ProjectDorset House
ArchitectBennett, T.P. & Joseph Emberton
CityLondon
CountryGreat Britain
AddressGlouchester Place/Marylebone road NW1
Building TypePerimeter block
Number of Dwellingsc. 150
Date Built1935
Dwelling Types1,2,& 3 BR flats
No. Floors10
Section Typeflats
Exterior Finish
Materials
brick, plaster, steel
Construction TypeRC frame, masonry walls
Ancillary Servicesshops, garage

Designed by T.P. Bennett and Joseph Emberton, this 10-story courtyard Art Deco group of apartments occupies an entire block in the Marylebone district of the city a short walk from Regent’s Park, next to the Marylebone Station. Modern Architecture was late in arriving in England and the Art Deco style enjoyed a brief but exuberant period between 1925 and the late 1930’s. Emberton, who had visited theExposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925, was one of the earliest English architects to work in the Art Deco style although he was a modernist architects as well as can be seen in his design for the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club of 1930. The inclusion of Dorset House in The Modern Flat, by F.R.S. Yorke and Frederick Gibberd in 1937, places the building in the context of the modernist period, however, the stepped form, plan organization, materials and details clearly mark it as a stylistic precursor to other more famous contemporary residential blocks like Highpoint I & II, by Bertold Lubetkin, 1935-38, Pullman Court, by Frederick Gibberd, 1935, and Isokon Flats by Wells Coates, 1933.

Four, point-access towers are connected together defining an interior courtyard, but also partly enclose smaller garden spaces around the perimeter of the building. Set on a two- story plinth of commercial spaces, the top two floors step back creating a distinctive terraced form. The tower elements vary slightly in plan, but either four or six apartments are grouped around a short interior hallway that is serviced by elevators and two stairs. Dwellings vary in size from 1 to 3 bedrooms. Most have exposure to two or three sides of the building and the larger apartments have large terraces or balconies on the ends of the tower elements. The compact, highly articulated plans suggest an organization of distinct, well-defined rooms as compared to the open space planning typical to early modernist designs of this period. While the rustication and extended cornice of the bottom two floors, the vertical detailing of the brick walls, the bay windows with French doors, and other details suggest traditional and vernacular references, the large casement windows, curved corner development, decorative moldings and balustrades, and color combinations are pure Art Deco details. The strategy of connecting point-access towers to create a continuous building that steps in plan and section can also be seen as a prototype for a similar building form that was used extensively in France and Germany in the 1960’s, in the projects and building typologies of Candilis Josic and Woods such as Bobigny 1959, and the huge Märkisches Viertel development in Berlin by O.M. Ungers and others, 1967.

Glendinning, Miles, Stefan Muthesuis, Tower Block, Yale University Press, New Haven, 1994, pp. 49.

Jones, Edward, & Christopher Woodward, A Guide To The Architecture of London, Van Nostrand Reinhold, N.YU., 1983, pp. 95

Yorke, F.R.S & F. Gibberd, The Modern Flat, 1937.

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