Much feted by the media, film companies and architectural historians, Trellick Tower is the dominant feature in an estate of 317 dwellings plus an old people's home, planned by the LCC but built by the GLC between 1968 and 1975. Though the lower level housing is well-designed and meticulously built, it is the Tower which impresses, a masterpiece of its architect Erno Goldfinger (1902-1987).
Designated as part of the Kensal New Town Development Area, an 11 acre site was cleared of unfit houses and factories. Bounded by the Grand Union Canal and the Paddington mainline, four acres were designated as public open space and the remainder as accommodation for familius displaced by the compulsory purchase of their unfit housing. Redevelopment plans were approved in 1967. The contractor was F G Minter & Sons. In January 1968 the scheme was costed at £2,405,500 and Trellick Tower formed part of Phase 1 of the Cheltenham Estate, completed in 1972. The arrangement of the flats in the 332 ft high Trellick Tower is based on that of Goldfinger’s earlier Balfron Tower in Poplar in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.
The Tower consists of two blocks, one of 31 storeys and one of 7, built of bush-hammered in-situ reinforced concrete. The residential slab has a separate services tower bridged by glazed-in walkways to the main block at every third storey. The service tower contains three lifts, lift-motor room, and escape stairs, and includes a laundry and clubroom, with the glazed (former) boiler room projecting out from the top. The physical separation of the services is a practical solution for both maintenance and sound insulation.
In the residential slab, one-bed flats are on the access gallery floor (kitchens overlooking the gallery) with two-bed flats above and below. On the main south elevation every flat is set back behind a balcony, and has floor-to-ceiling glazing in the main rooms. The access galleries and north façade have concrete infill panels. Floor 24 has six two-storey maisonettes and one row of two-bed flats, expressed as a change in balcony rhythm.
The lower block contains 42 units, below which are six non-residential units including a doctor’s surgery, newsagent and supermarket. As originally designed, the scheme included a nursery (under the main block) and an outside children’s playground. The distinctive cornice above the south façade of the main block was removed but other lost features (such as the foyer stained glass) are gradually being restored/reinstated.