Willow Road, Hampstead
Ernö Goldfinger and the Hampstead Architects
Ernö Goldfinger settled in Hampstead, London in the late 1920’s and joined an increasingly large community of Hampstead architects, artists and intellectuals. Along with other well-known architects such as Water Gropius, Marcel Breuer and Bertold Lubetkin, he was instrumental in bringing Modern Architecture to London.
Goldfinger was born in Budapest in 1902, moved westward with his family in the years following the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, finally settling in Paris in the early 1920’s. During this period the young architect was influenced by the work of Le Corbuiser, Walter Gropius, and Adolf Loos. Goldfinger was one of the first of the ‘Hampstead Architects’ – in 1933, he moved to Highpoint, the modernist apartments designed by Bertold Lubetkin and Tecton that had just been completed. Shortly afterwards, Goldfinger and his wife bought a beautiful site in a neighbourhood of Georgian residences that overlooked Hampstead Heath. His position as one of the most prominent Hampstead architects came with his acclaimed design of a three-story block of terraced apartments that contained three dwellings. The Goldfingers lived here in the middle apartment, No. 2 Willow Road, until he died in 1987. Goldfinger was a leading figure in the English Modern Movement and, on a more local level, became the heart of a leftist community of Hampstead architects, planners and intellectuals. While Willow Road established Goldfinger as an important figure in the Modern movement in London, and his office building on Albemarle St, built in 1953-58, continued that early tradition, he is better known for several very large Modernist/Brutalist high-rise buildings built in the 1970’s, most notably, Trellick Tower in 1972.
Willow Road was influential as a prototype of a modern version of the London terraced type and was an important source for certain later projects, especially the housing designed in the 1960’s and 70’s by Camden Council Architect’s office and other London and Hampstead architects.
In 1995, the National Trust purchased No. 2 Willow Road and it was opened to the public the following year.