Balfron Tower, London
Balfron Tower is a 26-storey residential building in Poplar, a district of the London Borough of Tower Hamlets in the East End of London. Built in a Brutalist style, it forms part of the Brownfield Estate, an area of social housingbetween Chrisp Street Market and the A12 northern approach to the Blackwall Tunnel. It was designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963 for the London County Council, built 1965–67 by the GLC, and has been a Grade II* listed building since 1996.
Balfron Tower is stylistically similar to Goldfinger's later Trellick Tower in London.
HARCA began a full refurbishment of the buildings in 2011. The architectural firm PRP which has taken up this project is looking to restore these Brutalist structures to their original form as required by English Heritage, and also to bring the buildings up to modern specifications and 21st century living standards. The refurbishment is technically challenging, due to the need to install new services without disturbing the listed exterior. The solid concrete design also suffers inherently from cold bridging, which has to be remedied by internal wall insulation.
Residents were to have the option to keep their flats in the blocks, or to move into new low-rise homes nearby, in which case the vacated flats would be sold to finance the works. However, in October 2010 the residents of both blocks were sent notice that the refurbishment would require all residents to move out, due to fire safety and other risks, with no undertaking on whether they could return. Decanting of the tenants was completed in 2015.
All images © Alan McFetridge