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Erno Goldfinger (1902-1987)

Trellick Tower

Designer: Goldfinger, Erno (1902-1987)
Copyright: Sam Lambert/RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1973)

With a background in forestry and saw-mills, Goldfinger's original thought was to become an engineer. However, influence from Hermann Muthesius's work on English domestic architecture persuaded him to turn his attention to architecture.

 

In 1921, Goldfinger studied architecture at the Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris and interacted with several other Paris based architects including Auguste Perret, Mies van der Rohe and Le Corbusier. Perret's use of reinforced concrete structure was of large influence to Goldfinger who used it in his later notable buildings.

 

Between the wars, Goldfinger lived in Highpoint I, whilst designing his own house at 2 Willow Road, Hampstead. After the war, Goldfinger designed new offices for the Daily Worker newspaper and the headquarters of the British Communist Party. Goldfinger's prominence came with the development of the high-rise tower block, seen by the British government as the answer to the post-war housing shortage. His examples of this genre include the 27-floor Balfron Tower in east London, and the 31-storey Trellick Tower in Kensington, the latter of which is now a Grade II* listed building.

 

James Bond's arch-villain, Auric Goldfinger is named after the Hungarian architect, after Bond's creator, Ian Fleming, heard of Erno. Upon publication of the novel, Erno Goldfinger spoke to his lawyers. Fleming then threatened to rename the character 'Goldprick', so Erno Goldfinger chose not to sue, but settled for costs and six free copies of the book.

 

Goldfinger was nominated on four occasions for the Royal Gold Medal.