Sunday, May 07, 2017

The revival of Embassy Court, Brighton

My photography, as regular readers will know, tends to feature derelict and decrepit buildings. So let's celebrate restoration for once.

Close to Brighton's West Pier is a modernist block of flats. A decade or more ago it looked in a bad way, yet you suspected it had been quite a building in its day.

That block turns out to be Embassy Court, once home to Rex Harrison, Terrence Rattigan, Max Miller and Keith Waterhouse. You can read a discussion of its celebrated residents and visitors on the Embassy Court site.

That page also explains the building's decline:
Embassy Court’s decline was decades in the making but the rot truly set in during the mid 1980s. A succession of freeholders came and went, seemingly with little interest in maintaining the block. The decline in the value of leases brought speculators and absentee landlords into the picture. During the 1990s some flats were abandoned, others were squatted, rented out to struggling economic migrants and – to the horror of some – students! 
These new arrivals at first sat uneasily alongside the often elderly and temperamentally conservative residents who had made their homes here in the 1970s.
The good news, as I saw when I was in Brighton last week, is that Embassy Court has been restored.

Conran + Partners tells the story:
Embassy Court is arguably Brighton’s finest twentieth-century building and an outstanding example of modernist design. With its roof terrace and 11 storeys of sea-view apartments, the building was once the glamorous home of the wealthy and famous, but after years of decline was left near-derelict. 
We were appointed by the management company Bluestorm to bring the 1930s building back to life. The work was completed in 2006, including the careful restoration of the exterior to its original appearance and drastic upgrading of services. The sun terrace – previously closed off due to a lack of railings – has also been reinstated allowing spectacular sea views. 
It received a Highly Commended Large Scale Residential Award in the 2006 Sussex Heritage Trust Awards.
By the entrance you will find a blue plaque commemorating the World War II hero Captain Edward Zeff, a former resident.

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