Man About 2 Willow Road

Monday for me started with a solitary walk at 5.30am to look at Brunel's Maidenhead bridge which carries trains out of Paddington over the Thames (we were camping nearby) and it ended in Ernö Goldfinger's 2 Willow Road in Hampstead at the LFA Man about 2 Willow Road show. 

A day book ended by one piece of iconic engineering, and a piece of iconic architecture. Both made of brick and both controversial in the community when they were built. 

Brunel's bridge has the widest, flattest brick arches in the world, even today, 178 years after it was built. At the time people doubted they would stand up and Brunel, feeing like courting a bit of controversy lowered the elliptical timber cantering used to build them a bit but did not remove it. It wasn't until the falsework was blown away in a storm that he revealed the ruse. 

Goldfinger's house in Hampstead was built 100 years after the bridge in 1939. It so annoyed Ian Flemming, who lived nearby that he named a Bond villain after him.  The terrace of modernist homes is clad in pale red brick to bed it into the look of the street.  

Thanks to the National Trust taking over 2 Willow Road in the 90's we can see how the house looked when Goldfinger lived there. A group of 20 or so of that is, we were treated to a funny and entertaining evening with Tim Ross and Kit Warhurst, in Man About 2 Willow Road. Using the place as perhaps Goldfinger and his family would have, the front room became a theatre and a small group came together. 

Tim and Kit have travelled the world, doing the show in some of the world's small collection of good modernist houses. The show ended with a poignant story of how at risk these buildings are. Ronald Reagan's old house in Pacific Palisades, where he was told on the phone that we was President by Jimmy Carter in 1980 was recently bought by developers for $5m, demolished the next day and replaced with something bigger, not so interesting but sold for $33m. 

This is not an unimaginable thing in the UK and London, so good for our listing system, good for Tim and Kit for making a show that gets the community inside these buildings and good for LFA and the National Trust for making it happen. Our small lucky group got to experience a very special couple of hours in a very special space.  

Tim LucasComment