5 notable modernist buildings London

Isokon Building

The Isokon Gallery

Lawn Road NW3 2XD



This daringly modern, sleek and whitepainted concrete apartment building was designed by Wells Coates and completed in 1934. It was a significant experiment in new ways of urban living and became the epicentre of the London avant-garde, with early residents including Walter Gropius and László Moholy-Nagy. Now a gallery has opened there to tell the history of the building and the Modern movement.

The Finnish Church

33 Albion St
SE16 7JG
+44 (0)20 7237 1261


This Lutheran church in Rotherhithe was built in 1958 as a religious and cultural meeting place for British Finns. The building, designed by Cyrill Mardall-Sjöström, is Grade II listed and has a distinctive storied tower and a main building that incorporates a beautiful church hall. It’s a welcoming place that hosts markets and has a hostel and sauna.

2 Willow Road

2 Willow Road
+44 (0)20 7435 6166
www.nationaltrust.org. uk/2-willow-road

This 1939 terraced house in Hampstead was designed by the architect Ernő Goldfinger, who lived here until his death in 1987. Hugely influential, it’s the only modernist house open to the public and is a superb example, featuring a spiral staircase deigned by Ove Arup and a spacious interior with bespoke furniture and 20th-century artworks by Bridget Riley, Marcel Duchamp and Henry Moore.

Economist Building

25 St James's St

These offices built for The Economist magazine in 1962-4 by British architects Alison and Peter Smithson are located amongst the private galleries and antiquarian book dealers of St James’s. Exemplifying the ‘new brutalism’ the designs are simple and restrained but have a bold, straightforward construction of Portland sandstone and exposed steel on a raised pedestrian courtyard. Nice to know: Sake No Hana, a very good Japanese restaurant, is located right in front of the Economist Building.

Economist Building © Shutterstock
Economist Building © Shutterstock

Barbican Estate

City of London
Silk Street

These concrete towers and terrace blocks, built in the 1960s and 70s and designed in the 50s, are prominent and successful examples of brutalism. Built in an area devastated by bombing, The Barbican is a utopian experiment for city living conceived along Corbusian lines. It incorporates courtyards, green spaces, public walkways and cultural enterprises.

Barbican Estate  © Shutterstock
Barbican Estate © Shutterstock

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