Search

Plaque unveiled to mark 80 years of Hampstead modernist icon the Isokon Building

17:44 09 July 2014

The Isokon Building. Picture: Johnny Green/PA

The Isokon Building. Picture: Johnny Green/PA

PA Archive/Press Association Images

Custodians of Hampstead’s iconic Isokon building welcomed residents and relatives of its creators to mark its 80th anniversary today.

The plaque is unveiled by John Pritchard (left), grandson of Jack and Molly Pritchard and Matt Cohn, grandson of Wells Coates, the original architect. Picture: Polly Hancock.The plaque is unveiled by John Pritchard (left), grandson of Jack and Molly Pritchard and Matt Cohn, grandson of Wells Coates, the original architect. Picture: Polly Hancock.

The grandson of influential furniture designer Jack Pritchard, the building’s first owner, joined the grandson of the Isokon’s original architect, Wells Coats, at the launch of an exhibition celebrating the local landmark’s unusual history.

Eight decades to the day since their families opened the Isokon building, in Lawn Road, John Pritchard and Mr Coats’s grandson Matthew Cohen, 53 – better known as Matt Black from the legendary electronic music duo Coldcut – 
unveiled a new plaque in honour of the men who developed its legendary design.

Described as a modernist masterpiece, the Grade I-listed block – occasionally called the Lawn Road Flats – has been home to notable names including crime writer Agatha Christie, who reportedly likened the flats’ appearance to “a giant liner which ought to have a couple of funnels”.

The Bauhaus-inspired structure is renowned for its architectural significance as Britain’s first domestic building made of concrete – a minimalist look which attracted a string of left-wing intellectuals from Central Europe, including Jewish modernist architect Marcel Breuer, who left Germany when the Nazis rose to power.

Influential furniture designer Jack Pritchard, the first owner of the Isokon BuildingInfluential furniture designer Jack Pritchard, the first owner of the Isokon Building

But it was recently revealed that the Isokon flats also lodged up to 25 Soviet Union spies during the Second World War, headed by Arnold Deutsch who controlled the notorious “Cambridge Five” syndicate which rebelled against Britain.

Despite the Isokon’s remarkable heritage, it experienced a period of uncertainty after its eminent Isobar club closed in 1969. The building slowly went into disrepair until, in 2003, it received a new lease of life through restoration works.

The permanent exhibition opens to visitors in the block’s communal gallery on Saturday, featuring archived letters and photographs from past occupants as well as furniture designed by the isometric unit construction company that gave the building its name.

Isokon Gallery Trust member, Magnus Englund, believes the building’s sleek style makes it seem much younger than its 80 years. “People can’t believe it was built in the 1930s,” he said. “I think the architecture was really ahead of its time.”

Jack and Molly Pritchard's flat in the Isokon Building in Lawn Road
, with furniture by Marcel Breuer. Picture: Sidney Newbery/Architect and Building NewsJack and Molly Pritchard's flat in the Isokon Building in Lawn Road , with furniture by Marcel Breuer. Picture: Sidney Newbery/Architect and Building News

Mr Englund, 48, who lives in the historic penthouse flat that belonged to John Pritchard, added: “I find the building special on so many levels. There have been so many important residents that it is difficult to know whom to mention.”

The Isokon exhibition in Lawn Road, Hampstead, will be open every Saturday and Sunday between 11am and 4pm. Visit isokongallery.co.uk for more information.

0 comments

Welcome , please leave your message below.

Optional - JPG files only
Optional - MP3 files only
Optional - 3GP, AVI, MOV, MPG or WMV files
Comments

Please log in to leave a comment and share your views with other Hampstead Highgate Express visitors.

We enable people to post comments with the aim of encouraging open debate.

Only people who register and sign up to our terms and conditions can post comments. These terms and conditions explain our house rules and legal guidelines.

Comments are not edited by Hampstead Highgate Express staff prior to publication but may be automatically filtered.

If you have a complaint about a comment please contact us by clicking on the Report This Comment button next to the comment.

Not a member yet?

Register to create your own unique Hampstead Highgate Express account for free.

Signing up is free, quick and easy and offers you the chance to add comments, personalise the site with local information picked just for you, and more.

Sign up now

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Police are appealing for witnesses after the death of a woman who was hit by a coach in Camden.

A City boss from Hampstead likened to the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ has been jailed for a year after sexually assaulting two women.

A pedestrian was hit by a car in South Grove in a road traffic collision this afternoon.

13:27

Welcome, hope and tolerance have been the three key messages for students learning about refugees.

Yesterday, 17:30

Camden Council has claimed a “major victory” after Airbnb announced today that it will limit entire home listings to 90 days a year in London.

Yesterday, 16:53

Haringey has the third-highest proportion of homeless residents in England, new figures have revealed.

Yesterday, 16:31

In the first of a series written from the Greek town of Thessaloniki, currently home to more than 20,000 refugees, a trainee journalist from Kentish Town writes about her life as a volunteer

Yesterday, 15:24

A pair of Barnet schools believe the future is bright after announcing a “strategic partnership” on Monday.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now