Friday, 28 August 2020

THE CRUISE LINER IN BELSIZE PARK

 

Designed the flats between 1929–1932

Modern Living in a Modernist building 

Resembling the side of a cruise liner


 

On Lawn Road, near Belsize Park, is a remarkable Modernist apartment block nestling amongst the trees on this quite road. These are the Isokon Flats, are also known as Lawn Road Flats and the Isokon building.

 

Many  interested in Modernist architecture make the pilgrimage to see it. It was a sunny day and the building, resembling the side of a cruise liner, shimmered in the fine weather. 

 

Canadian engineer Wells Coates designed the flats between 1929–1932 for Molly and Jack Pritchard, Jack was marketing manager for the Estonian plywood company Venesta, and much of the furniture and fittings in the apartments were originally plywood. 


Pritchard went on to found the Isokon Furniture Company with Coates. A fascinating story of itself http://midcenturymagazine.com/furniture-objects/isokon-furniture/


It was an experiment in minimalist urban living; the twenty-four flats had tiny kitchens, as there was a communal kitchen for the preparation of meals, connected to the residential floors via a dumb waiter. 

 

Residents include the Bauhaus’ very on Walter Gropius and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy. Agatha Christie was resident between 1941 and 1947.

 

The flats fell into disrepair in the 1990’s but were caringly refurbished in 2003. Isokon is owned now by a housing association and occupied by key workers under a shared ownership scheme.

 

As I made these drawings a passer-by, a local who volunteers in the Isokon Gallery.  suggested I also visit 1-3 Willow Road five minutes away. This is another tale to tell, coming shortly

 

Support the Isokon Gallery, in the former garage attached to the flats, details are here https://isokongallery.org

No comments:

Post a comment

Thank you very much for your comments - Tim