TRELLICK Tower is one of London’s most distinctive pieces of architecture — a 31-storey residential tower block on Golborne Road, in the borough of Kensington and Chelsea. Completed in 1972, it is considered a leading example of Brutalist architecture.
When psychiatrist Sheraz Ahmad, 40, went to look at a flat for sale on the 24th floor in the building 15 years ago, he didn’t know much about Brutalism, or Erno Goldfinger, the architect who designed the tower.
‘I just thought it was an amazing flat, really bright with big windows. I didn’t know about Goldfinger before I saw the place, but I was bowled over.’
The flat had been empty for a while and was in a poor state of repair, with no kitchen, but Sheraz was sufficiently impressed to buy it, making him among the 15 per cent of private owners in the building.
But now Brutalist architecture is back in fashion, does he expect a quick sale now he’s come to sell it?
‘People say it’s trendy, but I don’t think it’s trendy now and it wasn’t trendy then.
‘Most people have lived in the building for over ten or 20 years. They haven’t changed, but the area is more trendy. There are more bars and restaurants on Golborne Road now.’
It attracts visitors for the annual Open House London, where distinctive buildings are open to the public.
‘People come to see inside Trellick. Whether they want to live in it, I’m not sure. Some do and others just want to admire it.
‘Living here is such a pleasure, though. Which is why very few people want to leave.’
Sheraz particularly likes the spacious and well-proportioned rooms. He owns a three-bedroom maisonette, which features an open-plan kitchen/diner, utility room, living room and bathroom.
The building is now Grade II listed, which means residents can’t make any drastic changes, and need to keep the original door frames and light switches.
‘But the flat is so nicely designed you wouldn’t want to knock anything through anyway,’ he says. ‘We’ve decorated it with some things that are from the 1970s, but we haven’t gone over the top.’ They include vintage 1970s crockery and ceramics, retro-inspired wallpaper and mid-century-style furniture. ‘Each floor has its own colour of tiles in the corridor, similar to the tiles you’d find on the Underground. We’ve used similar coloured tiles in the bathroom and kitchen, so we’ve tried to keep it as Trellicky as possible,’ he says. Sheraz’s favourite feature is the view.
‘We have a balcony which is 21ft long and 8ft wide. We’ve put artificial grass on it and it looks great.
‘The views are amazing. One side overlooks Westfield and Shepherds Bush, the other looks onto Wembley and beyond. You see a lot of London. When I first moved in, a neighbour who lived here for 18 years was moving out.
‘She said she never got bored of watching the weather change, and she’s right. I stood watching the thunderstorms across London recently. It was amazing. And you see all the fireworks over the city. You never need go to a New Year’s Eve party again.’
Another benefit is receiving presents from friends and family. ‘They buy us cushions, mugs, coasters. There’s a surprising amount of things you can buy with pictures of Trellick on.’
Trellick Tower was completed in the same year as Grenfell Tower, and there was a fire in the building six weeks before the Grenfell tragedy. ‘The fire was above us. The people in the flat left. Some people left the building, because they were alarmed, but the concrete did what it was supposed to do and contained the fire.’
When Sheraz leaves he’ll be sad to leave the community. ‘We know everyone on our floor.
‘There’s a residents’ association and you know everyone in the lift,’ he says. ‘I’ll miss that. There’s a nice community feeling. There are lots of families with children and there’s a great park for kids nearby and several outstanding schools in the area.’
Sheraz now has a partner and children and works in east London. He wants to reduce his commuting time and is moving to a semi-detached house closer to work.
‘We did think long and hard about leaving. It’s the right thing to do, but I am going to miss Trellick.’
■ £795,000, themodernhouse.com
The architect who inspired a Bond villain
TRELLICK Tower was designed by architect Erno Goldfinger, a controversial figure even before he started work on the building. Ian Fleming named the James Bond villain after him when Erno demolished some cottages near the author’s home.
Work on the tower started in 1968 and was completed in 1972, just as the housing boom in tower blocks was ending and they were falling out of fashion.
Goldfinger expected the building to have security facilities and a concierge, but it didn’t, resulting in its being vandalised before it was completed. It was nicknamed ‘the tower of terror’ due to homeless people sleeping in the corridors, residents being attacked, vandalism leading to power cuts and lifts not working.
By the 1980s security improvements and activism by residents resolved many problems. Gentrification of the area over recent decades and a resurgence of interest in Brutalist architecture is now making Trellick an attractive option for buyers. But buyers should be aware there is an annual service charge of £4,000 on top of a planned major works bill of £40,000.