Description of Exeter House
10-storey residential building on Hallfield Estate.
Caernarvon and Exeter Houses were built during the first contract (1951-55). The block is 30 metres high and is 10m x 70m in plan.
The iconic front facades of the 10 storey blocks are perhaps the most visually distinctive element of the Hallfield Estate, especially as seen in longer views. Each storey has a recessed common balcony giving access to the front doors. The balconies are served by a central stairwell and a pair of lifts.
The stairway and recessed balconies are balustraded with a patterned perforated screen, forming a distinct contrast with the deeply shaded balconies behind. The screen is formed of precast concrete panels in angular, abstract forms. Three sections or ‘accents', projecting slightly from the building line, are finished in cream tiles to a different pattern.
The railings between the accents are painted black, contributing to the ‘floating' effect; the screen appears completely detached from the structure of the building.
The whole facade is surrounded, to the sides and top, by a frame of cream ceramic tiles, divided by dark cement bands into 6 by 5 tile squares. A shadow gap between the frame and the screens contributes to the floating effect.
The front walls of the flats themselves are of a concrete brick featuring a fine gravel aggregate.
Windows are steel casements with three panels, side hung to either side with top hung light to the central fixed pane.
The 10 storey blocks have a pair of angular, dog-leg stairs from ground to first floor providing access to refuse chambers. These stairs appear to be cantilevered out from the first floor. Again this is an illusion; they are supported on piers of dark coloured Staffordshire blue bricks.
The tiled ‘frame' of the front elevation is continued to the sides of the blocks in the same arrangement; rectangular units of six tiles by five form a grid, divided by thin bands of grey cement, some bearing the impression of timber shuttering.
Windows to the side elevations are of three different designs. All in steel, the designs alternate from storey to storey in a symmetrical pattern and comprise a combination of top hung and side hung casements.
The reverse facades of the blocks are only slightly less distinctive than the front, and are arranged in a chequer board pattern of windows and red and grey brick panels.
Window openings are paired and form floor to ceiling glazing. Each has three panels to the top with a combination of side and top hung casements. The lower fixed panes are opaque glazed. The distinctive glazing pattern is important to the overall facade design.
Brick panels between the windows alternate from storey to storey between Staffordshire blue bricks and red bricks.
The building is again framed with the pale ceramic tiles, with the structure expressed as visible concrete bands at each floor, and between each paired
The ninth (top) floor is faced in the same cream glazed tiles, arranged in 6 x 5 tile squares between dark concrete bands. The tile facade is cut away at the centre of each block revealing dark coloured brick behind.
The recessed ground floor has different windows - they lack the lower, fixed, lights, but otherwise follow the same pattern.
The four corners of the blocks are supported on tapering columns where they overhang the ground floor. These are formed of poured and shuttered concrete, with fluting formed by impressions of battens fixed to the interior of the shuttering.
The nearest tube station is Bayswater on Queensway (5 minutes' walk. Paddington Station is 10 minutes' walk from here.
Source: Conservation Area Audit 2008, westminster.gov.uk