5 notable modernist buildings in London
1) Isokon Building
This daringly modern, sleek and white-painted 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.
2) The Finnish Church
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.
3) 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.
4) Economist Building
These offices built for The Economist magazine in 19624 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.
5) Barbican Estate
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.
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