80 years ago the finishing touches were being applied to the Isokon, a building which, according to curator Justine Sambrook, offered a new way of living for its inhabitants …

Isokon Flats, Lawn Road, Hampstead, London, 1934

Image (enlarge): Isokon Flats, Lawn Road, Hampstead, London, 1934
Architect: Wells Wintemute Coates
Photographer: John Havinden
© RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Image from RIBApix

The Isokon flats were designed by Wells Coates on behalf of the Isokon furniture company and were intended to house bachelors and young professionals. The block of 30 utilitarian apartments was based on Le Corbusier’s notion of  ”the minimum dwelling”. Each flat had ingenious sliding partitions and built-in storage to maximise the space. Laundry and eating were communal activities with dedicated areas within the building.

This photograph was a promotional shot for Crittall‘s windows. John Havinden’s brother Ashley was a major force in the development of advertising between the wars and secured many of the photographer’s commissions.

Justine Sambrook
Curator, Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library, RIBA

About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit www.architecture.com

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