This website contains profiles of Modernist buildings in Britain. Each profile contains a description and history of the building, photographs and a location information. The following list of sites are Modernist buildings are London. Click the building name or the "read more" link to view the building profile.
Greater London House, Hampstead Road, London, NW1 7FB
Standing on Hampstead Road in North London, opposite Mornington Crescent tube station and half a mile north of Euston Road, the Arcadia Works was built between 1926 and 1928 for the Carreras Tobacco Company. The company was established in 1788 and started business in London in the mid-1850s. By 1907 the company had a large works on City Road (which runs roughly from Moorgate north-west to Angel) in North London. By 1927 the company had outgrown its City Road works. The company commissioned plans for a new London headquarters for the company.
Arthur George Porri submitted plans for a classical-influenced building whilst architect Marcus Evelyn Collins suggested a stylised Egyptian frontage. The Egyptian style echoed the increasing influence of Egypt on art and design following the opening of Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922 by British archaeologist Howard Carter. The Egyptian design was married to Porri's overall scheme. The design of the building was credited to the practice of Marcus Evelyn Collins and Owen Hyman Collins with A G Porri and Partners as consultant.
Marcus Evelyn Collins was born in 1861 and died in 1944. His father, Hyman Henry Collins (1883 - 1905) was a well-known architect having designed the New London Synagogue in St John's Wood, London. Marcus Evelyn Collins and Owen Hyman Collins worked in practice in London until March 1939 when the partnership was dissolved, although both continued in practice, albeit separately from the same office at 115 Old Broad Street in London.
Arthur George Porri was born in 1877 and died... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Factory
Portland Place, London, W1A 1AA
Located on Portland Place, north of Regent Street in Central London, stands the imposing structure of Broadcasting House, home of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) since the early 1930s. Today the building serves as the broadcaster's headquarters for news gathering, radio, television and online services. The building's original purpose was home to Britain's fledgling radio service, the country's first purpose-built broadcasting facility including offices and radio studios.
Broadcasting House was designed by architects George Val Myer and Watson Hart, using a steel frame clad in traditional Portland stone. The building rises for nine storeys, with a three storey basement, and extends substantially north for some thirty-five bays along Portland Place. The building terminates to the south with a narrow, rounded main facade on Langham Place, adjacent to All Souls Church, by eminent English architect John Nash.
The western side of the building along Portland Place, is higher that that to the east, along Langham Place, where the height of the building diminishes from nine storeys to six, so that it didn't block the light for properties on neighbouring Langham Street. The sloping roof used to bridge the change in height was obscured by the clock tower, a practical and effective design solution.
The main facade rises for six storeys and is topped with an ornamental clock tower, with an oval shaped clock and, originally, two latticework masts for long wave and short wave radio; the mast visible today is a replica. Above the main entrance doors, atop a stone lintel,... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Commercial
Bollo Lane, London, W4 5NE
Standing at the junction of Bollo Lane and Acton Lane in Chiswick, West London, Chiswick Park Station is a station serving the District Line on London Underground. The Underground Electric Railways Company of London operated a numebr of lines, including the Northern and Piccadilly Lines, and since 1902 the company had also owned the Metropolitan District Railway, for which Chiswick Park Station was built.
The Underground Electric Railways Company of London was managed by Frank Pick (1878-1941). Pick was an enlightened leader for the company, with an appreciation for good design. He commissioned designer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design a typography and Underground 'roundel' symbol for the company. Frank Pick also commissioned British architect Charles Holden to work on designs for the Underground Company. Charles Holden was born in Bolton on 12 May 1875. He entered architectural practice in 1892 and joined the practice of Henry Percy Adams (1865-1930) in 1899. In 1913 architect Lionel Godfrey Pearson (1879-1953) joined and the practice became the Adams, Holden and Pearson Partnership.
Initially Holden's commissions involved works to station facades supervised by Stanley Heaps (1880-1962), head of the Underground Group's Architects Office. Later Holden's commissions extended to complete stations; in 1925 Pick commissioned Charles Holden to design the seven stations of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London's Northern Line 1926 southern extension to Morden.
These new Northern Line stations adopted a modern style which marked the beginning of Holden's influence over London Underground design. But it was Holden's plans for Sudbury Town Station that set... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Transport
120 Fleet Street, London, EC4A 2BE
Located at 120 Fleet Street in the City of London on the corner of Shoe Lane, the former Daily Express Building is one of London's most iconic Modernist buildings. The building was constructed between 1930 and 1932 to serve as the headquarters of the Daily Express Newspaper in the capital. Even today, the building is a striking structure amongst the more traditional stone-clad buildings on Fleet Street and appears futuristic compared to even the most recent additions to the streetscape. In the 1930s, the building must have been such a stark contrast to other architectural schemes of the time.
Architects Ellis and Clarke (the practice later became Ellis Clarke and Gallanaugh) were commissioned by the owner of the Daily Express William Maxwell Aitken, Lord Beaverbrook, to extend forward the existing Daily Express buildings towards Fleet Street. Their original proposal would see a steel-framed structure, clad externally in Portland stone, a scheme similar in principal to that of the Daily Telegraph building further west along Fleet Street. However, complications arose from the physical constraints of the site - it was a relatively narrow plot - and the requirement to have printing presses running through the basement of the existing and new buildings. It meant their scheme was impractical.
English architect Sir Evan Owen Williams (1890 - 1969) was drafted in to the project to resolve the problems with the scheme. Williams was an architect and engineer and his company was later responsible for the design and construction of the first section of... Read more »
Tags: Commercial, Streamlined Moderne
7 Herbrand Street, London, WC1N 1EX
Standing on Herbrand Street in Central London, behind Woburn Place and within walking distance of Russell Square Underground station, is the former Daimler Car Hire Garage. Designed by Wallis, Gilbert and Partners, who also designed the Hoover Factory building and canteen in West London, the building was designed to serve as the headquarters of the Daimler Hire Car Company. The building basement served as a private car park while the upper storeys of the building provided parking for the Daimler fleet, necessitating the construction of a spiralling ramp, which gives the building its unique appearance.
Constructed of reinforced concrete and extending over four storeys (and basement level) the building comprises a main block, with a central stairwell and lift core. Each of the storeys features Crittall metal-framed windows forming distinctive horizontal bands. The piers between each window are set with horizontal channels, mirroring those in the windows.
The central core has a narrow, continuous vertical window providing illumination into the core. The facade is rendered and painted white, the window frames picked out in a distinctive green colour. The central core window and doorways feature distinctive green and black faience tile surrounds.
To the left, the building extends for two bays, before a projecting block extends forward to accommodate a down-ramp to the basement. This left block extends south along Herbrand Street for a further three bays and terminates in a slender four-storey stairwell core, with a narrow slot window. The block rises for three storeys, the... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Garage
Warwick Road, London, SW5 9TA
Standing in West London is one of the capital's premier exhibition centres, Earls Court. Famous for hosting exhibitions, trade shows and concerts, for many years Earls Court played host to the British Motor Show where iconic cars such as the Jaguar E-type and Morris Minor were officially unveiled to the public. The centre traces its history back to 1887, but the current landmark structure at the site was designed by American architect Charles Howard Crane (1885-1952) in 1937.
The main building at Earls Court has a concave facade formed of two outer blocks and a recessed central section. For many years the building retained its original unadorned concrete-faced facade (as illustrated) but this was subsequently covered with cladding, which also concealed the original windows with a layer of additional glazing. The outer blocks of the main facade carry two later additions - large advertising hoardings used to promote events at the exhibition centre - beneath lettering spelling 'Earls' on the affixed to the top of western block and 'Court' on the eastern block.
The central section comprising five bays. The bays are filled tall windows, with each window topped with a square motif. The central bay motif depicts a knight - an Earl - atop a horse. From left to the right the remaining motifs depict science and industry represented by meshed cog wheels, music represented by musical instruments, sports represented by a tennis racket and archery target, and a thistle and leaves representing flora and fauna.
There is a projecting,... Read more »
Tags: Commercial, Modernist
42-47 Minories, London, EC3N 1DY
Standing on the east side of Minories in Central London, less than half a mile north of the Tower of London, stands the Ibex House, a impressive-looking 1930s office block. The building is in the Streamlined Moderne style of Modernist architecture, popularised by the Odeon Cinema chain, but used here for a commercial building. Ibex House was designed by the architectural practice of Fuller, Hall and Foulsham. Today, the practice is one of the lesser known of the period. Fuller, Hall and Foulsham also designed Blenstock House in Cental London, located at the junction of Blenheim Street and Woodstock Street just off Oxford Street, home to the auction house Bonhams.
Ibex House occupies a large rectangular plot on Minories, with an extended H-shaped footprint. The building extends for approximately 40 metres on Minories, and for around 100 metres along Haydon (to the north) and Portsoken Street (to the south). Ibex House is built around a structural steel frame, with a western and eastern core providing a space for lifts and staircases. The building ranges over eleven storeys, with a basement level. The top three storeys of the central section on the building on its east-west alignment are stepped back successively, with just the top storey stepped back on its east and west elevations.
The exterior of Ibex House is clad in distinctive black faience for its lower storeys and buff faience above. Each storey features black metal framed windows that form continuous horizontal bands of... Read more »
Tags: Commercial, Streamlined Moderne
Great Marlborough Street/Argyll Street, London, W1F 7TA
Ideal House in London stands on the corner of Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street, just off Regent Street. The building is an impressive structure, standing out from the buildings nearby with is polished black granite facade and gold-coloured decoration.
Ideal House was designed by architects Raymond Hood and Gordon Jeeves for the American National Radiator Company. The design was inspired by the American Radiator Building on Bryant Park in Manhattan, New York designed by Raymond Hood and John Howells and built in 1924. That building was an early skyscraper for New York so its tall appearance contrasts with that of Ideal House, however the black and gold exterior is common to both buildings.
Completed between 1928 and 1928 Ideal House must have a dramatic sight when completed, contrasting against the more traditional London architecture on Regent Street and in the surrounding area. Ironically, the Tudor-style Liberty opposite on the south side of Great Marlborough Street was built four years previously, yet in architectural style it is centuries apart compared to Ideal House.
The building was constructed of large polished blocks of black granite. The upper storey of the building is ornamented with an enamel frieze and cornice in yellows, oranges, greens and gold. The black and gold colours were the colours of the National Radiator Company. The entrances on Great Marlborough Street and Argyll Street were decorated with ornate enamel surrounds, although the surround on Argyll Street was subsequently removed.
The building comprised some seven stories, with a recessed attic... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Commercial
Lawn Road, Hampstead, London, NW3 2XD
In 1931 the Isokon firm was founded by Jack and Molly Pritchard and partners. The partners of the company were interested in modern living and sought to design buildings and furniture a modern style. Previously, in the mid-1920s, Jack Pritchard had met architect Wells Wintemute Coates and a synergy between the Pritchards and Coates was formed, all having an appreciation for architecture and modern design for living.
The Pritchards purchased a plot of land at Lawn Road, Hampstead, London (near to Belsize Park Underground station) and commissioned Wells Coates to design and build a block of serviced flats. Coates had grown up in Japan, served in the Royal Air Force, and studied at the University of British Columbia before moving to Britain where he set up an architectural and design practice.
Properly known as Lawn Road Flats, Coates designed a four storey block of thirty-four flats with two roof-top penthouses. Built of reinforced concrete with cement wash render, the main elevation facing Lawn Road featured a cantilevered stairwell to the left, giving access to cantilevered balconies that are carried the full extent of the elevation. The balconies terminated at the right with a five storey tower providing stairwell access to all floors - the penthouse flat is not accessible by the cantilevered left stairwell and balconies. The stair tower is illuminated by a slender vertical window. The west-facing (rear) elevation, away from Lawn Road, features twelve bays of windows, with balconies on three of these bays. At ground floor level, adjacent to... Read more »
Tags: Housing, International Style
96 Finchley Road, London, NW3 5EL
Located in north London, the Odeon Swiss Cottage is a fine, surviving building from the Odeon Cinema chain. Unlike many of the original Odeon cinemas the building maintains its original purpose and is still part of the Odeon chain. Like many of the early Odeon cinemas the Odeon Swiss Cottage was designed by the Weedon Partnership, with Basil Herring assisting Harry Weedon in the execution of the design. Overall, the design features were used on a number of cinemas designed by Weedon.
The general form of the cinema resembles the earlier Odeon in Loughborough built in 1936 and the Odeon in Dudley built in 1937. However, the design at Swiss Cottage departs from those in its lack of external faience cladding, which was a common feature on many Odeon cinemas of the time; the biscuit-coloured faience and red Odeon signage became a "house"-style for the Odeon Cinema chain.
In form the Odeon Swiss Cottage is essentially a block-shape with streamlined, rounded corners on the main elevation. The elevation comprises seven central bays separated by angular pilasters, with tall, recessed metal-framed windows. A deep, projecting ground-floor canopy extends the wide of the seven bays, with seven sets of double doors providing entrance to the foyer. The lower facade beneath the canopy features horizontal rusticated bands.
Clad entirely in red-brick, above the window bays are affixed large lettering spelling out the name Odeon. Above, the upper portion of the main elevation is again broken by horizontal rusticated bands; this was a common feature on many... Read more »
Tags: Cinema, Streamlined Moderne
Western Avenue, London, Greater London, W5 3EL
Standing on Western Avenue, which runs west out of London, Park Royal Station serves the Piccadilly Line on London Underground. In the early 1930s public transport in London was operated by a multitude of separate companies. This saw large companies such as the Underground Electric Railways Company of London, which operated a number of underground lines including the Northern and Piccadilly lines, providing services alongside numerous smaller companies.
In 1933 the London Passenger Transport Act sought to consolidate public transport services within the designated 'London Passenger Transport Area' under the auspices of the London Passenger Transport Board (London Transport). Underground and over-ground lines, buses, coaches and trams were combined, although separate 'brands' were created. For example inner London buses were red (such as the Routemaster) whilst in the outer areas 'Green Line' buses were dark green.
From the outset London Transport was managed by Frank Pick (1878-1941). Pick was an enlightened leader for the company, with an appreciation for good design. Previously, as Managing Director of the Underground Electric Railways Company of London he had commissioned designer Edward Johnston (1872-1944) to design a typography and Underground 'roundel' symbol for the company. Frank Pick had also commissioned British architect Charles Holden to work on designs for the Underground Company.
Charles Holden was born in Bolton on 12 May 1875. He entered architectural practice in 1892 and joined the practice of Henry Percy Adams (1865-1930) in 1899. In 1913 architect Lionel Godfrey Pearson (1879-1953) joined the practice, forming the Adams, Holden and Pearson Partnership.
Initially Holden's... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Transport
66 - 68 Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD
Between 1957 and 1958 the Royal Institute of British Architects extended its existing headquarters at 66 Portland Place in Central London to meet the expanding accommodation requirements of the organisation. The extensions - both upwards and outwards - were designed to harmonise with the existing Modernist building, designed by British architect George Grey Wornum. His design for 66 Portland Place was implemented between 1933, when the foundation stone was laid by the 8th Baron Howard de Walden on 28 June, and 1934 when the building was officially opened on 8 November by King George V and Queen Mary.
Wornum's design for 66 Portland Place saw the construction of a large, six storey building occupying a corner plot. The building extends for three bays along Portland Place, and extends deeply for eleven bays down Weymouth Street. Outwardly the building appears to be built of Portland Stone, but it is in reality built around a steel-frame and reinforced concrete core. The ground floor facade on both elevations has rusticated stonework beneath a plain architrave. There are double height windows to the first and second storeys on both elevations, with smaller square windows to the third floor and fifth floors. The front elevation has a large window in the central bay, extending to the third storey. There is a balcony on the third storey along Weymouth Street. The Portland Place elevation features a bas-relief figure titled 'Architectural Aspiration', while on the Weymouth Street elevation are five bas-relief figures of a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Headquarters, Office
66 - Portland Place, London, W1B 1AD
Standing on the corner of Portland Place and Weymouth Street near to London's Regents Park, 66 Portland Place is an impressive Art Deco office building serving as the headquarters of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). The RIBA, founded in 1834, is the professional body for architects in the United Kingdom. The RIBA received its Royal Charter in 1837. Today the organisation has a membership of over 40,000 professionals. The RIBA offers support and training to its membership, it seeks to inform and influence government policy, and has a public programme of different activities from exhibitions to talks.
Since 1859 the RIBA had been headquartered at 9 Conduit Street (now a trendy restaurant), just off Regent Street in London. However, the RIBA had outgrown the building and in 1929 a competition was announced inviting submissions for a new headquarters for the RIBA, to be completed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the founding of the organisation. By 1932, some 284 submissions had been received by the RIBA. The winning design was by British architect George Grey Wornum.
George Grey Wornum as born on 17 April 1888 and entered architectural practice in 1906. In 1916, whilst serving with the Artist Rifles (a regiment of the British Army originally formed in 1859 by volunteers from the creative arts) in the First World War, Wornum was seriously injured. He suffered leg injuries and lost his right eye. He resumed architectural practice after the war and in 1929 submitted plans to the RIBA. In... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Headquarters, Office
27 Tooley Street, London, SE1 2PR
Standing on Tooley Street, near to HMS Belfast and on the south side of London Bridge in central London, St Olaf House was built between 1928 and 1932 for the Hay's Wharf Company. The Hay's Wharf Company was founded in 1867 ane operated warehouses and wharves on the Thames in London. St Olaf House was built on the site of the former Church of St Olave. The company commissioned the architect Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel to design a London headquarters for the company.
Harry Stuart Goodhart-Rendel was born in Cambridge in 1887. As well as an architect Goodhart-Rendel was a soldier, composer, pianist and writer. In 1913 he inherited the ancestral family home, Hatchlands Park, near Guildford in Surrey. Hatchlands was beuqeathed to the National Trust in 1945 and was handed over to the Trust on the death of Goodhart-Rendel in 1959.
St Olaf House is a steel-framed building, clad in white Portland stone. The building footprint is a T-shape with the 'arm' of the T facing onto the River Thames. The building is six storeys high with a wide entrance bay at the Tooley Street frontage. The entrance bay is lit by two large decorative bronze light fixtures. The building name is carried above the entrance bay in tall, slender gilt lettering. Steel columns divide the entrance bay area, with a entrance hall set to the rear. With the exception of the outside corners at ground floor level, the corners of the building are chamfered. To the right of the entrance bay... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Commercial
12 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4QD
Standing on Red Lion Square just off High Holborn in central London is Summit House, an impressive office building in the Modernist style. Designed by the British architect Joseph Emberton with his architectural partner Percy Westwood, Summit House was built in 1925 for the Austin Reed Company.
The Austin Reed company was founded in 1900 by Austin Leonard Reed as a gentleman's tailor. By 1911 the company had a flagship store on London's Regent Street, and by 1925 the company commissioned the architectural practice of Westwood & Emberton to design its London headquarters for the company. By the 1930s the company had concessions aboard the transatlantic Cunard Liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth. The company went into administration in 2016, before the brand name was bought out by the Edinburgh Woollen Mill company.
Architect Joseph Emberton and his partner Percy Westwood formed Westwood & Emberton in 1922. Emberton was born in Staffordshire in 1889 and died in 1956. Percy Westwood was born in 1878 and died two years later in 1958.
The practice was responsible for a number of designs for Austin Reed shops, including in Glasgow (on the corner of Gordon Street and Renfield Street) and Sheffield (on Fargate, near to its junction with the High Street) although these were in a more traditional style of architecture compared to Summit House. Emberton in his own right was responsible for some notable Modernist buildings including Simpson's of Piccadilly (in London), the Royal Corinthian Yacht Club in Burnham-on-Crouch and Blackpool Pleasure... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Commercial
254 Grays Inn Road, London, WC1X 8JX
At the approximate mid-point of Grays Inn Road in London, which runs from its junction with the Euston Road (near to Kings Cross Station) to High Holborn, stands Trinity Court. Constructed in the space between the old St Andrew's Holborn Burial Ground (dating from 1754) and Grays Inn Road, Trinity Court is an impressive Modernist-style residential apartment building.
Trinity Court was built between 1934 and 1935 to plans drawn up by the London-based architectural practice of F Taperell and Haase. Another example of their work is Heathview, on Gordon House Road in north London (near to Gospel Oak Overground station). Although somewhat wider than Trinity Court, the similarities between Heathview and Trinity Court are plain, particularly the bay windows treatment, the balconies and their railings, and the checkerboard pattern on the steps to the entrance.
Trinity Court stands out amongst the more traditional buildings on Grays Inn Road, not only in its style, but also in its stature, extending over nine storeys including a basement storey. The buildings is rectangular in plan, with its shorter sides parallel to Grays Inn Road. The front and rear elevations project slightly at each return, giving a Roman 'I' footprint to the building.
Built using a steel frame construction, and clad in white-painted render, with a distinctive blue colour to its window frames and railings, Trinity Court is an attractive building and important example of 1930s residential architecture.
At street level the main facade is five bays wide, with a central entrance with double... Read more »
Tags: Art Deco, Housing