1826 – 1840
Cubitt and Cundy
Length Closure Ratio (B): 1 to 10.6
Width Closure Ratio (B): 1 to 10.2
Green: 447 ft. x 473 ft. (136.2 x 144.2 m)
Ratio Width to Length (Face to Face): 1:1.04
Face to Face: Width: 636 ft. (193.9 m)
Face to Face: Length: 665 ft. (202.7 m)
Height A: 57.5 ft. (17.5 m)
1821 had seen the transformation of Buckingham House into the royal palace, and the transformation gave new impetus for the development of the five fields owned by the Grosvenor Estate which lay immediately west of the newly designated palace. A bold, industrious and talented person was needed to take full advantage of the market opportunity, and the estate could have found none more capable than Thomas Cubitt. Cubitt. Working with the help of his architect brother, Lewis, and no doubt Thomas Cundy who represented the Estate, Cubitt and designer George Basevi devised a unified approach, but clipped the corners of the square by introducing with sites for four custom villas. Using stucco and what today we would call the “Big House” approach, Cubitt
began with the plainer north and east terraces, and as market traction mounted, made the southern and western terraces more elaborate.
Each dwelling on the four villa sites reflects the time it which it was constructed. The southwestern villa was designed in 1826 by Kendall. Smirke designed the northwest corner villa about 1830 for Lord Brownlow. The southeastern site lay dormant for over 15 years until Lord Sefton had Hardwick design his home – which Hermione Hobhouse called a true “English gentleman’s house, not yet the palace of an Italian nobleman or a Gothic conceit.” 1 The northeast corner was designed by Cubbitt’s office in 1847.
Though unified and well constructed, the overall assembly can be faulted from a scale point of view. The square is simply too big – over 600 feet from face to face. All vegetation is confined to the park zone, and the overly large street cross sections further alienate the sense of the park relating intimately to the dwellings. The broad dimensions of the square make it quite impossible to recognize people on the other side, were you able to see through the opaque foliage. Thus, even though the architecture and geometries talk to each other across the park, there still is an unfortunate sense of separateness.
1 Hobhouse, Hermione “Thomas Cubitt Master Builder, 1971, Macmillan, p 135.