South Square, NW11

Road in/near Hampstead Garden Suburb, existing between 1912 and now

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Road · Hampstead Garden Suburb · NW11 ·

South Square is the name of the southern part of Central Square, Hampstead Garden Suburb.

South Square
Credit: Hampstead Garden Suburb Heritage
Raymond Unwin’s 1905 proposals for a garden suburb at Hampstead showed a central core near to the location of what became Central Square. This point was the highest in the suburb and thus its proposed buildings would become the focus in views from surrounding streets. There was to be a library, a hall, an Anglican church, a chapel and shops. The east side of the square was to be filled with housing.

As 1908 dawned, Edwin Lutyens was appointed consulting architect to Hampstead Garden Suburb (HGS) and was directed to focus his energies on the central area, including the Institute. Lutyens’s drew a sketch plan for Central Square and presented to the General Purposes Committee of the HGS Trust on 18 February.

Henrietta Barnett, whose idea the suburb had been, was known not to approve it and suggested an alternative arrangement in a letter of 24 February. This plan captures what would become the final form of the Central Square, with the Institute and related buildings on the east side with churches defining the north and south boundaries.

There is no evidence to show what relationship this plan may have had with Lutyens’s original plan - whether it was entirely new or merely a refinement.

But the early success of the suburb led to plans to extend Hampstead Garden Suburb eastward on land totaling about 300 acres and owned by the Ecclesiastical Commissioners. This was before the central area had been laid out. The proposals for the square and its buildings since 1905 had been based on the premise that they would form the eastern boundary of the Suburb.

Unwin understood that doubling the size of the Suburb had implications for the Central Square, and he set about revising the plans. His new plan was ready by August 1912 and there is nothing to suggest that Lutyens’s had been consulted.

The additional of the new land put the Square at the centre of the Suburb. The challenge was now to open up a view of the extension from Central Square, thus uniting the two halves of the Suburb.

Unwin imagined a prominent crown of public buildings surrounded by public spaces near to East Finchley Station, at the apex of the new triangle of land. There would be a theatre, meeting rooms, shops and buildings. There wouls also be a market for selling the fruits of the ’co-operative effort’ which Unwin was still hoping would flourish in the Suburb.

Lutyens eventually modified his Central Square proposals to take the growth into account, and the east elevation of the Institute should be understood as his eventual concession to the Suburb’s growth.

Main source: The Hampstead Garden Suburb Trust
Further citations and sources


South Square
Hampstead Garden Suburb Heritage


Hampstead Garden Suburb

Hampstead Garden Suburb is a suburb, north of Hampstead, west of Highgate, and east of Golders Green. It is an example of early twentieth-century domestic architecture and town planning located in the London Borough of Barnet in northwest London.

The master plan was prepared by Barry Parker and Sir Raymond Unwin.
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