An iconic address. No. 2 Willow Road

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No. 2, Willow Road in Hampstead, London was the Modernist home of it's architect, Erno Goldfinger, until his death in 1987. Born in Budapest in 1902, he moved to England in 1933 with his wife, Ursula Blackwell, an heir to the Crosse and Blackwell fortune. He was part of a group of European architects that settled in London in the 1920's and up to WW2. Included in this group were Walter Gropius (architect and founder of the Bauhaus school with Mies Van der Rohe) and iconic furniture designer, Marcel Breuer.

Goldfinger became a leading figure in the English modernist movement and was hugely inspired by Le Corbusier while studying in Paris at Ecole des Beaux-Arts in the 20's. No. 2, Willow Road is one of just three terraced residences built in a 3 storey block.  These Hampstead apartments caused huge controversy in 1937 when they were designed; While they were modeled loosely on 18th and 19th century terraced houses, they used modern materials such as concrete and horizontal steel window frames and had a flat roof and the repeated use of squares, moving partitions and folding doors. The building was considered to be totally out of character with it's surrounding architecture and was objected to strongly by neighbours, including Lord Brook, MP for Hampstead and also by author Ian Fleming, who named his villain Goldfinger in the James Bond film of the same name, to emphasise his dislike of the design.

Ironically, after Erno Goldfinger's death, his home was handed over to the National Trust in 1993 by Heritage Secretary, Peter Brooke, son of Lord Brooke.  It is not a typical National Trust property and is in fact, the only Modernist home open to the public. For the curious, there is a charming short tour of the apartment to be found on youtube at nationaltrust.org.uk/2-willow-road). It is open to the public and well worth a visit.

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BlogCarol-Anne Leyden