Picturing London

Architects' visions: White City

Initial sketch by Eric Mendelsohn for White City flats development 

Initial sketch for White City flats development, London, 1934
Pencil on tracing paper
Artist and designer: Eric Mendelsohn
© Victoria and Albert Museum. Museum number E.677 - 1993

 

Bold and rapid in conception, Eric Mendelsohn's sketch was made in the initial design stages for a development of flats in White City, West London. The massive White City project included 2,500 lower-middle-class flats surrounding gardens, a cinema, a shopping centre and restaurants. A striking vision in 1934, hard economic times prevented the ambitious project from realisation.

Drawn in dark pencil, Mendelsohn's ideas for modern urban living are clear: long blocks, towers and plazas far from the crowded and dirty streets of the 19th century. While Hill and Holden were inserting Modernism within the existing built environment, Mendelsohn proposed the complete erasure and restructuring of the city's fabric. His drawing is not romantic or picturesque, instead he relies on the power of the scheme to attract and inspire awe in civic leaders and future residents.

 

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