September 1973. Thomas More House was part of Phase II of the City’s building programme for the Barbican site. The original contractor was Turriff Limited. But after long delays and labour disputes Turriff were allowed to leave the site and their buildings were completed by John Laing Construction Limited.
Thomas More House is a terrace block running east to west along one side of Thomas More Garden, the largest of the Barbican gardens. It runs from Aldersgate Street as far as The City of London School for Girls.
Defoe House is an ‘east-west’ or ‘front to back’ block which means that it runs from east to west and the flats in them go the whole depth of the block from the front to the back (so residents look out of their windows north and south).
There are 4 very similar terrace blocks: Andrewes House and Speed House which face each other over the lake; and Thomas More House and Defoe House, which face each other over Thomas More Gardens. They each have penthouse flats at the top, ‘garden’ flats below the Podium level, and 6 floors of flats in between.
It contains 155 flats ranging in size from 1 to 4 rooms. Above podium level there are 6 storeys of flats and 1 of penthouse flats. The living rooms of the flats above Podium level look south across the tennis courts and landscaped area behind the City of London School for Girls, while the view north is over the garden, whose other sides are formed by Seddon House on the left and Defoe House opposite. There are 3 storeys of flats below podium level. The flats on the lowest garden level are studio flats. Above, are two upper levels of larger garden flats. All have living rooms facing onto the gardens as opposed to the flats above the Podium which are oriented the other way round.
There are entrance doors at podium level on Thomas More HIghwalk for each staircase. There is an entrance at 03 level off the cobbled road at the back which is the road into the car park. (There are two buttons in the lift fort 03 level, one so that the door opens onto the car park, and the other for owners of the lowest garden flats who need the other door to open on the building side where their flats are.). There are gates directly onto Thomas More Garden which provides access from the gardens.
Lifts and staircases
Since each flat takes up the depth of the building, there is no central corridor. Instead, there are separate staircases with lifts every two flats along the block. Each staircasel serves two flats on each floor. There are 10 staircases numbered 15 to 24.
At 03 level is the Thomas More Car Park, whose entrance is down the ramp off Aldersgate Street. The car park is actually under the tennis and other sports court, and you enter it via the same cute little brick arches which appear all over the place round Thomas More House. Some cars are also parked right next to the lifts under Thomas More House.
I have not located the tenants’ stores.
List description of this building issued by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport (as it then was) in 2001.
“Block XI: 1-155 Thomas More House. Seven storeys above podium with two storeys under. Eleven and a half bays between concrete columns supporting cross beams, the ends of the beams on other floors exposed to form a rhythm of large bays. Each of these are subdivided into three room spans, forming a pattern for the flats along the facades of two and one units width between glazed firescreens. The podium is open, but with glazed entrances to the flats in nine bays. Sliding varnished timber windows set behind paved balconies, with metal and glass balustrades and many with concrete window boxes. Painted undersides of roof. 24 rooftop penthouses, with double height fully-glazed ends under rounded tops, given a white finish. The one-two pattern of the flats is explained by their being ‘L’-shaped and having a double aspect, each pair wrapped around a central fully glazed lightwell containing staircase and lift. At the eastern end Thomas More House abuts Mountjoy House, and has underneath it the sports hall range of the City of London School for Girls.”