21st July 2015
The prolific architect Charles Holden (1875-1960) is best known for the London Underground stations he designed in the 1930s which came to define the look of the network: sleek, well-proportioned modernist boxes. Earlier in his career, however, he had a brief Arts and Crafts moment. In Oval, just up the road from us, he built the Belgrave Hospital for Children, an unusually big and chunky expression of Arts and Crafts design ideas. One detail of this building has been an inspiration to us: the entrance, which is emblazoned with gold mosaic tiles. Like other Arts and Crafts architects, Holden couldn’t resist using a splash of gold to complement the rather sober materials and finishes he used elsewhere. It certainly suggests that anyone crossing the threshold is a bit special, which is fitting for a hospital for children (though the building is now flats).
Well, we can’t resist a splash of gold either. So I’ve spent the last week tiling the deep reveals of our two roof windows with gold mosaic tiles. This has not been an easy job as I have had to cut and cement dozens of individual tiles to finish the corners properly, standing on a scaffold tower with the sun on my head. Yesterday I left site looking like I’d been down a mine after spending the day mixing, spreading, wiping down and mopping up black grout. But it’s been worth it: the gold tiles are stunning and do wonderful things with the light including throwing a golden glow over the walls of the library when the sun is low.