Primrose Hill flat by Modernist icon Erno Goldfinger on the market
PUBLISHED: 12:50 01 October 2014
A slice of twentieth century architectural history could be yours as a Primrose Hill flat in a small block designed by Erno Goldfinger comes on the market.
The apartment on Regent’s Park Road was designed in the 1950s by Goldfinger, who also designed and lived in the house on Willow Road in Hampstead, which is now owned by the National Trust.
The Modernist block with its heavy use of concrete and exposed brick is unusual for the area, where housing stock is predominantly dollshouse-style pastel-coloured stucco terraces.
It is also somewhat unusual as it is run by the tenants in a mutual society, so leaseholders are not allowed to sublet (this would contravene the law that says that no party can profit from a mutual society).
Anthea Arnold, treasurer for the society explains that this is a result of the post-WW2 housing act whereby groups of people could get a 90 per cent loan from the council to build housing.
She says “Goldfinger was a formidable person, a very forceful and dogmatic man. He had a long interest in domestic architecture but because he was so difficult to work with, he didn’t get many commissions.
“But he managed to get a group of people together and, in 1954, got the promise of a loan from what was at the time St Pancras borough council.”
Of the people who first moved in to the building in 1956, two residents still live there. Jimmy Gibb, a 95-year-old musician who also lived in the building from 1956 until his death last year first lived in one of the top floor studio flats.
The apartment may have been small but the renowned concert pianist still managed to fit a concert grand piano in it.
In later years Gibb moved down to the ground floor studio, which is now for sale through Chestertons, when he could no longer manage the stairs.
The flat benefits from a private balcony, which overlooks the communal back garden, while the top floor studios have private roof gardens.
The flats also have the original mahogany cupboards in all the rooms. These are not only a delightful period feature but also provide ample storage for the small living spaces.
In a nod to the Modernist ideal of communal living, there is a shared laundry room and further storage pods for residents to use in the basement.
It is only in recent years that properties in the building have been advertised for sale as previously residents were able to pass them on via word of mouth.
However, Arnold says the doubling of property prices in the past three or four years means that the historic flats are no longer affordable for most people.
Over the years the block has housed its share of north London intellectuals with an author, a future editor of the Times Literary Supplement, a magazine printer, a lecturer in maths and, of course, a concert pianist all passing through its doors.
The next resident can hope to soak up a little of this cerebral, left-wing atmosphere – if these walls could talk…