Walter Gropius proudly declared London’s Pioneer Centre to be ‘Britain’s best new building’ when it was unveiled in 1935.
Though the Bauhaus founder was a big admirer of Pioneer Centre, it was actually Wembley Stadium engineer and architect Sir Owen Williams that designed the art deco Peckham building as a state-of-the-art health centre for doctors George Scott Williamson and Innes Hope Pearse. Interwar medicine was largely focused on curing disease, but the doctors believed the focus should be on prevention and improving general health through wellness.
This ethos translates directly into William’s architecture. It prioritised good light, airflow and activity via lofty rooms with giant banks of windows, a beautiful 1930s swimming pool, tennis courts, gyms and landscaped gardens.
By the 1950s, the newly formed NHS meant the centre was slated to close, and it was later converted into apartments imbued with this experimental sense of well-being. The Modern House is listing a two-bedroom, split-level apartment on the building’s ground and first floor for £795,000.
The London property comes with a leafy, private rear terrace and a ‘topsy-turvy’ floorplan: living areas are on the upper level with bedrooms below, peeking onto the gardens. A massive bank of steel framed windows let in the light, and an original spiral staircase connects the levels.