Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

2 Willow Road

In Uncategorized on October 15, 2012 at 12:10

After a gorgeous walk on Hampstead Heath yesterday I stumbled upon 2 Willow Road, the modernist home designed, built and lived in by architect Erno Goldfinger and his family.

Although the architectural structure of the reinforced concrete house is very striking,  I was more excited by the details in the interior of the house- the industrial plastic floor, the light switches embedded in the wood panelled rooms, the wardrobe designed with sections to fit the exact dimensions of a freshly pressed shirt. I was also mesmerised by the use of colour, which Goldfinger used as a kind of branding in the house in bold, fresh primary colours of blue and red. A solid blue which welcomes you at the door carries you up the staircase. With everything he did, Goldfinger displayed a great sense of conviction.

And yet, I could not help but also be struck by the overwhelming sense of egocentricism of it all. The design of the house said so much about him and so little about the rest of its inhabitants. His wife Ursula was eerily absent in the house. I was quite disturbed by the enormous amount of work space he gave himself at the centre of the house, spilling out in the main living area. I felt quite sad when our tour guide pointed out the clever shelving of Erno’s design which had literally hidden his wife’s canvasses behind his display cabinet. (This is even more frustrating when one learns that her inheritance financed the entire project).

Nevertheless, the building is a fantastic monument to the modernist ideal and much of its design still has the  capacity to shock and impress in its ingenuity, eighty years later. Now owned and managed by the National Trust, the building runs tours Wednesday-Saturday until the end of November.