We have written a lot about cultural differences and how we have coped. As we are slowly settling in, stories about us struggling will (hopefully) be less and less. Instead, we start enjoying the spring and exploring London and surrounding. And sometimes also the sun, if she decides to come out.
One thing, I recently discovered my interest in is modern architecture. Modern architecture is broadly architecture from the end of the 19th century starting with art nouveau as well as the arts and craft movement up to now. My favourite style of all the various movements is the so called “International style” also known as “Classical Modernism”. Although the International Style was more common in Continental Europe, especially in France, Germany and the Netherlands, London has also a few interesting places to visit.
As starting point for exploring modernist London, we chose 2 Willow Road by Ernö Goldfinger. Ernö Goldfinger is a Hungarian architect who studied in Paris where he met his wife and with whom he moved to London. He moved to Hamstead in the 30s of the last century, an area were the artists lived at the time. Today it is a fairly posh area with quite a few celebrities. Goldfinger established an architectural practice in London with a few famous buildings on his track record, such as Trellick Tower.
2 Willow Road consists of three houses but look like one house at the first sight. The middle of the houses is the largest one and was the Goldfinger’s family home. The building was finished in 1939 and is now owned by the national trust.
2 Willow Road has some characteristics of modernist buildings. It has a cubical form with a flat roof. It is built from reinforced concrete. The walls use red bricks to mirror the surrounding Victorian houses.
The ground floor houses reception and garage. The first floor contain living room, kitchen and office. It features a glass front to bring natural light in. This is possible as the floors are put on pillars and the walls do not hold any weight. Additionally, this allows open plan inside and Goldfinger used folding doors to join the rooms on the first floor when necessary. He loved having parties for which the folding doors created the space he needed. The second floor contains the bed and bath rooms.
Overall, it is a very beautiful piece of modern architecture. It does not perfectly match the International Style as it has some local influence through the use of red bricks. But the building is well designed and worth a visit.