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 "Housing". Click the building name or the "read more" link to view the building profile.
King's Road, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 2PX
Standing on King's Road on Brighton seafront Embassy Court is a fine example of Modernist architecture. Designed by the architect Wells Coates (1895 - 1958), Embassy Court was built between 1934 and 1936. Coates was a designer and architect and was responsible for many fine Modernist buildings in Britain, including the Isokon building in London and the Telekinema for the 1951 Festival of Britain.
Even today Embassy Court provides a striking architectural contrast to the surrounding Regency and Victorian-style buildings on Brighton and Hove's seafront. When built in the mid-1930s its appearance must have been even more radical. However, the scale of the building is better judged in comparison to nearby Marine Court in St Leonard's on Sea, a building that completely dominates its surroundings.
The footprint of Embassy Court forms a mirror 'L'-shape on King's Road and Western Street in Brighton. Constructed of rendered, reinforced concrete the building comprises twelve storeys including its basement structure. Embassy Court contains 72 separate apartments, spread across its eleven principal storeys. The main block comprises the first eight storeys. The south-east corner of the building features a curved bay of windows. Each of the first eight storeys has glazed bays with recessed balconies, with adjacent balconies separated by screens. From the ninth floor upwards the remaining three storeys are set back successively providing sun terraces for the apartments, with a final twelfth storey featuring a canopied-roof and sun terrace.
The main entrance is on King's Road via a glazed entrance... Read more »
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 »
Marina, St Leonards-on-Sea, East Sussex, TN38 0DZ
Marine Court in St Leonards-on-Sea in East Sussex was constructed by South Coast (Hastings & St Leonards) Properties company. On 30 November 1936 the foundation stone was laid by Robert Holland-Martin, Chairman of the Southern Railway and the building was completed in 1938. Marine Court is fourteen storeys high, and from basement to roof, measures 170 ft/49 metres in height; east-west 416 ft/127 metres in length.
When viewed from the east or west Marine Court is very tall and slender, from the beach (south) or north, the full expanse of the building dwarfs all those on the seafront. Marine Court was an early pioneer of steel-frame construction, like the earlier De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill-on-Sea.
The building was designed by architects Kenneth Dalgleish and Roger K Pullen, with overt references to the Cunard White-Star Line Queen Mary, which had entered commercial transatlantic service in 1936. The east end of Marine Court is shaped to imitate the curved, stacked bridge front of the Queen Mary; the eastern restaurant served to imitate the fo'c'sle deck of the ship.
The south elevation is vertical, with balconies imitating the promenade deck aboard the Queen Mary. The upper stories of Marine Court are stepped-in from those beneath, like the superstructure of a ship, those beneath like the immense hull of a liner. The ground floor shop frontages were black, the external walls of Marine Court were painted white.
Marine Court was damaged at its eastern end by bombing during the Second World War and restoration of the building... Read more »
85 Moat Lane, Yardley, Birmingham, B26 1TJ
During the Second World War many British towns and cities suffered extensive damage from aerial bombing by the German Luftwaffe. Industrial assets - including factories, railway stations and ports - were targeted by German forces in an attempt to disrupt Britain's production of armaments, munitions, aircraft, vehicles and ships, along with the movement of troops.
Aerial warfare was indiscriminate, if bombs were aimed at a particular industrial complex they could fall miles off target, through poor navigation and bomb-aiming or weather conditions. Area bombing saw significant numbers of aircraft formed overhead to saturate air defences and areas 'blitzed', damaging and destroying large urban areas.
Residential areas close to industrial facilities were hit particularly hardly. Many homes suffered direct hits from bombs and incendiaries, which set fire to the house. Others, survived a direct hit but suffered blast damage from high explosives.
With the end of the Second World War there was a shortage of available housing for displaced residents in many British towns and cities. Raw materials were in short supply and rebuilding would take time.
A short-term solution was sought by the Government, which invited designs for prefabricated homes that could be manufactured quickly and at a relatively low cost, and could be easily and swiftly installed. Some 150,000 prefabricated homes were built in Britain after the Second World War.
Although intended for temporary use only, many remained in use for decades. Today only a handful remain in Britain in anything close to the original construction and appearance. English Heritage has... Read more »
97-99, Park Avenue, Ruislip, Middlesex, HA4 7UL
Numbers 97-99 Park Avenue, and adjacent 101 Park Avenue, are three Modernist houses in Ruislip, on the fringes of suburban-west London. The houses are a stark contrast to the surrounding housing stock on Park Avenue of traditional, brick and pitch-tiled roof, mid to late-twentieth century houses. These Modernist houses appear a curious component of a traditional urban environment, until the story of the development of the three homes is understood.
When plans were submitted to the local authority in 1933 by architects Connell, Ward and Lucas, there were initially rejected. Today, we might not realise just how radical and controversial these Modernist homes were. Everything about the design - the concrete-construction, the flat roof, the large glazed areas, the white-painted exterior - were "alien" to Britain. Modernist architecture was "imported" to Britain from Europe and there was a mistrust, almost a xenophobia (Modernist architecture flourished in Germany), towards this style of architecture amongst traditionalists. There were also practical concerns; the flat roofs and large glazed areas were considered unsuitable for the wetter, colder British climate.
The revised plans were submitted and accepted, and numbers 97-99 Park Avenue were finally constructed in 1935. Subsequent plans for 101 Park Avenue were approved and that house was built in 1936. Had the British public embraced Modernist architecture, a whole estate of Modernist houses could have sprung up in Ruislip. As it was, no more homes were built in this style. Looking back, the three houses that were built were a failed social experiment in Modernist... Read more »
Pinner Road, Pinner, Middlesex, HA5 5RE/J
Pinner Court and the neighbouring Capel Gardens (illustrated above) lie on Pinner Road in the Middlesex town of Pinner. They were both designed by local architect H J Mark and built by the Courtenay Property Company Limited. H J Mark worked locally, having designed much of nearby Eastcote town centre and a number of fine buildings at neighbouring Rayners Lane.
The two 'blocks' of Capel Gardens and Pinner Court lie to either side - to the west and east respectively - of the driveway from Pinner Road to Pinner Cemetery. They are approached by separate, private side roads. The two blocks are set back from Pinner Road by approximately 35 metres and between the blocks and the road are ornamental gardens, with curving paths, large trees, flower beds and grassed areas.
From Pinner town centre Capel Gardens is approached first on Pinner Road and comprises a single building to the west of the Capel Gardens side road, and a further three buildings positioned around a U-shaped drive enclosing a smaller ornamental garden. Pinner Court comprises two L-shaped buildings to the east of Capel Gardens. The area sandwiched between the two L-shapes has a smaller ornamental garden and fountain. Art Deco style lamp standards stand with the grounds of both Capel Gardens and Pinner Court.
The two blocks are generally built in the same style, with a small number of variations between the two. Each building is brick-built with white render and comprises three-storeys. Each floor has a combination of two and three-bedroom apartments.... Read more »
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 »