Tag Archives: Modernist

lubetkin’s house.

If you’re the architect of one of the best examples of modernist architecture in this country, then chances are your own apartment – in the same building – is going to be fabulous.

Berthold Lubetkin designed this penthouse as this own home, set atop Highpoint II (Highpoint I had been designed 3 years earlier in 1935) with its panoramic views across London and afar. I wrote about Highpoint I previously, here.

A striking entrance lobby sets the scene, with tiled floor, richly textured, timber-board cladding (a gib door leads to a cloakroom behind), and thick, vertical louvres of sand-blasted Norwegian pine. These striking finishes are bold, almost rustic, an unusual choice within the refined and elegant building. But they are contained, and as such are not allowed to dominate. The views beyond remain the scene-stealer.

The main space is rectilinear, open plan and 12 metres long. A barrel vaulted ceiling forms the double-height space, with lengths of fully retractable glazing extending along both walls. The rich, dark tiled floor contrasts with the white walls and window surrounds; then, more rough-hewn, wide boards of timber clad the walls vertically in the low-ceilinged snug at one end. A slab of creamy travertine beneath the windows on one side forms a continuous seat, the terrace beckoning beyond.

Elsewhere, walls are white and bare, and colour is used boldly but sparingly in tiles and feature walls.

The penthouse is for sale on The Modern house, here.

A Grade 1 listing means that the owner is unable to alter the apartment, but then, why would you want to?

The Lubetkin Penthouse, Highpoint II, London, N6. More, here.

a neapolitan modernist.

If our summer vacation involved a trip to the south of Italy, then this is where I would want to stay.

Built by Italian architect Michele Capobianco in 1964, the aptly named Villa Bianca is all geometric lines and elegance. Perfectly suited to the heat of its southern location, slim, double height columns elevate it high above its already lofty perch on the hills above Naples; the roof over-sailing the floors below, forming shady, travertine-lined terraces to sit and while. The garden too, is a sculptural, lush oasis of palms and grasses.

Inside, the entrance hall is a double volume, airy space, with artworks placed nonchalantly here and there. A stair to one side is flanked by a low wall which rises up to form a gallery at first floor level. All is white and cool. Dark wood adds warmth; tiled floors change pattern and tone depending on which room they inhabit. A secondary, circular stair spirals up, changing floor pattern as it arrives on each level. A beautiful fireplace niche, patterned with hand made brick, offers a place to sit and contemplate.

Simple, rectilinear furniture compliment the simple layout, the palette of dark wood and black leather bringing a sophistication to the mix.

Villa Bianca, Gulf of Naples, Italy, here.

I’ve also been seduced by this beautiful, contemporary farmhouse in Puglia. And I’m still looking forward to visiting this glamorous modernist in Portugal.

 

intimate spaces, defined.

Bold, modernist spaces in and around European cities dominate the site of French photographer Romain Laprade. He seeks out the intimate places often forgotten or deemed unimportant – foyers and entry halls – transition spaces that are too often seen as a luxury. It is these spaces that in reality allow a building to breathe, provide a place for occupants to pause, a space to contemplate or to stop and chat before passing through.

Romain started working as a graphic designer, working at French Vogue for 4 years. Now 28, his obsession is photography. The places he has found and photographed – the ones I like the most – are the foyers of modernist buildings from the ‘60s and ‘70s, most often in Paris. These wonderful interiors are rich in colour and texture – black granite cladding inlaid with bronze, or rows of mosaic tiles in bold hues of orange or red; bold concrete forms standing like voluptuous, oversized chess pieces, and floors of verde green marble. All surfaces have been considered – fine, dark bricks laid obliquely adjoin a ceiling of glossy black and red tiles; a vertical screen of rich brown wood opposes perfectly proportioned piers of tiny, matt black mosaic.

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Images 1, 2 , 3,  Paris 15; image 4 and feature image, Av. Paul Doumer, 1960, Paris.
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Image 5, Carrer de Brusi, Barcelona; image 6, Le persicope, 1972, Paris; images 7, 8, Le Meridien, 1964, Paris.rl_crimee_ohl02rl_creteil_ohl01rl_beaugrenelle_ohl06
 Image 9, Crimée, 1968, Paris; image 10, Créteil; image 11, Beaugrenelle.

See more Romain Laprade imagery, including beautiful fashion photographs for John Galliano and Tomasini Paris, here.

All images, courtesy Romain Laprade.

an enigmatic modernist.

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A XI 2011

Crossing the boundary between photography, art and sculpture, German artist Christine Erhard’s work is familiar and ambiguous at the same time. The  architectural subject matter and modernist aesthetic seem familiar, until the unusual viewpoint and use of materials cause the imagery to appear distorted and other worldly.

Initially studying sculpture, Christine Erhard became increasingly interested in the images of the object, rather than the objects themselves, until photography and its ability to manipulate became her primary focus. She explores various movements within Modernism, with the avant-garde architecture of the Russian Constructivists a theme she returns to over and again.

Christine cites artists of the 1920s such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy as her inspiration; artists who work in various disciplines – painting, poetry, graphic design, photography. Like Moholy-Nagy, there is a strong graphic quality to her work. For me, these works are both familiar and enigmatic, and very appealing.

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AXX 2011

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MI II 2012

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QVIII  2012

More of Christine Erhard’s work, here. All images courtesy of the artist.

a parisian in barcelona.

Caught in its original condition with just the addition of a rich, chevron patterned oak floor, this apartment contains an enviable collection of modernist delights and objet trouve. Looking very much like a Parisian apartment of the Haussmann era (more Parisians here, and here), the striking furniture is all postwar, French, too: Jean Prouvé, Charlotte Perriand, and an inventory of the wonderful, organic light fittings of Serge Mouille.

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It is a very strong aesthetic; each piece of furniture a statement in itself, and each in strong, saturated primary colour. There are lovely details too – the little shelves above the radiators, for example.

Apartment in Barcelona, AD Espana. Photos by Pablo Zamora

a modernist in miniature.

What I like about this tiny, 40m2 Parisian apartment is that it is clean and contemporary and full of mid-century pieces but lacks any of the austerity that often comes with mid-century interiors. Bits of the original interior are evident – the timber floors, of course, and a deep door reveal that has been stripped of years of paint. In the kitchen the remnants of a doorway remain, given new life as a mirror frame, and corners of brickwork have been left exposed here and there. The changes of level and undulant cupboard depths all add to a feeling of space that belies the diminutive floor area. Materials and finishes are kept simple, with pattern and texture ensuring the overall feeling is relaxed and unpretentious.

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40m2 apartment renovation by Charlotte Vauvillier via Plastolux

In the midst of my own home renovation, and thoroughly enjoying being able to choose my own finishes after years of doing it for other people… the only problem is, too much choice! I’m hoping to take photographs before and after and post them, if you would like to see..  Happy weekend.