The Life and Work of Ernő Goldfinger, RIBA, RA (1902 - 1987)
Trellick Tower, London. Image Courtesy of James Dunnett
The project supported by the RIBA Resarch Trust award will be to write a complete life and comprehensive critical account of the work of Ernő Goldfinger. This will draw on new research to be conducted mainly in the Goldfinger archive held by the British Architectural Library, as well as on earlier writings and research by James Dunnett and others into specific aspects of Goldfinger’s work, and on the personal recollections of anyone who worked for or with him. It is intended that this will make possible the publication of a large format book with high design and production values that for the first time will present his life and work as a whole. Goldfinger, who was born in Budapest 1902 and died in London in 1987, was the only architect to have been in personal touch with the beginnings of the Modern Movement in Paris in the early 1920s - through his teacher at the Ecole des Beaux Arts Auguste Perret and his colleague on CIAM Le Corbusier among others, who was able to bring it to mature fulfilment in Britain in post war years. The cogent and unique expressive power of works such as Balfron and Trellick Towers, completed in the late 1960s when critical attention had already begun to focus elsewhere, has in recent years won them wide admiration and considerable popular recognition, as well as the enthusiasm of residents. The house which he built for himself in Willow Road overlooking Hampstead Heath in 1938 was one of the first Modern houses to be listed - in the 1970s - and was the first to be acquired by the National Trust, following the death of Goldfinger's widow Ursula in 1991, and It has proved popular with visitors as one of the centres of Modern culture in Britain in the years immediately before during and after World War II, where gathered artists such as Max Ernst, Kurt Schwitters and Roland Penrose.
James Dunnett is an architect who in the mid 1970s was himself the last to work for Goldfinger, after graduating from Cambridge. He went on to work in Camden Architects Department at the time it was building its world-renowned housing schemes, and subsequently established his own architectural practice, whilst teaching at Oxford Brookes University and elsewhere. Together with Gavin Stamp and Robin Middleton he put on the major exhibition of Goldfinger's work at the Architectural Association in 1983, with Arts Council support. Subsequently he campaigned for the conservation of buildings by Goldfinger and other major architects of the Modern Movement and is currently co-Chair with Professor Judi Loach of DOCOMOMO-UK, the UK branch of the international association for the DOcumentation and COnservation of buildings and sites of the MOdern MOvement. He continues to practice architecture.
10 August 2011