Hard to Love a Brute

Roman Mars:
This is 99% invisible. I’m Roman Mars.

Roman Mars:
The Best James Bond is either Sean Connery or Daniel Craig. I lean towards Daniel Craig. The new movies are just better, but the Sean Connery films definitely had the best villains. There’s Blofeld of course, who so iconic that he turned in the act of cat-stroking into a thing that super villains do. But Bond’s flashiest nemesis has to be Goldfinger.

James Bond:
And you expect me to talk?

Goldfinger:
No. Mr. Bond. I expect you to die.

Avery Trufelman:
Do you expect me to talk?

Roman Mars:
Yeah, I expect you to talk.

Avery Trufelman:
There’s this dorky, fun fact that the Bond villain, Goldfinger, was actually named after a real person.

Roman Mars:
That’s Trufelman. Avery Trufelman.

Avery Trufelman:
The author of the James Bond books, Ian Fleming, named Goldfinger for a man he found so dastardly, so terrible that he immortalized him in pop culture.

Roman Mars:
The real Goldfinger was an architect, Ernő Goldfinger. And he made giant, hulking, austere concrete building.

Avery Trufelman:
Goldfinger’s buildings were decreed soulless. Inhabitants claim to suffer health problems and depression from spending time inside them. Some of Goldfinger’s buildings were vacated because occupants found them so ugly.

Roman Mars:
Yet many architects praise Goldfinger’s buildings. His Trellick Tower, which was once threatened with demolition, has it been awarded landmark status.

Avery Trufelman:
This divide, this hatred from the public and love from designers and architects, tends to be the narrative around buildings like Goldfinger’s, which is to say gigantic imposing buildings made of concrete. What some people refer to as brutalist architecture.

Roman Mars:
A lot of folks beyond the creator of James Bond, love to hate them.

Sarah Ramsey:
We are in Wurster Hall, which to my great dismay and frustration, is often considered the worst building on campus or Wurster Hall, more like worst.

Avery Trufelman:
I met up with Sarah Briggs Ramsey in Wurster Hall of brutalist building at UC Berkeley.

Sarah Ramsey:
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been locking up my bike outside and I overhear undergrads walking with their parents and going, ironically, this is the architecture school and it’s the ugliest building on campus.

Roman Mars:
Yup. Wurster Hall is the architecture school. Sarah completed her master’s there.

Sarah Ramsey:
Buildings like this are pretty pervasive across most American and Canadian campuses.

Avery Trufelman:
Yeah, there was a big bulky, concrete building on the campus where I went to college and I hated when I had to go through it. It just reminded me of a bunker or a bomb shelter. These big concrete buildings just like bummed me out.

Adrian Forty:
Absolutely. I mean it, it has these connotations of, you know, Soviet-era construction, sometimes third-world construction, all these negative associations.

Avery Trufelman:
This is professor Adrian Forty. Author of the excellent book “Concrete And Culture”. He’s been researching concrete for around 10 years now.

Adrian Forty:
It has a bad name.

Roman Mars:
Apart from aesthetic criticisms, concrete buildings, present environmental concerns.

Adrian Forty:
Lost these buildings were built at a time when energy was cheap and they use up an awful lot of energy to heat and cool them.

Roman Mars:
Concrete buildings were built with the illusion of plenty that we will always have enough energy to build and heat and cool these massive, inefficient structures.

Avery Trufelman:
As harsh as it looks, concrete is an utterly optimistic building material. Arguably too optimistic.

Adrian Forty:
Really from the 1920s it was seen as being the material that would change the world. It had the potential to build things in a way that hadn’t been seen before.

Avery Trufelman:
Concrete was this material that seemed boundless, readily available in vast quantities and could create massive spaces unlike any other material. So concrete sprang up everywhere.

Adrian Forty:
It’s the second most heavily consumed product in the world.

Avery Trufelman:
The only thing we consume more of than concrete is water.

Roman Mars:
We use concrete for sidewalks and bridges, tunnels and highways and of course for giant buildings.

Adrian Forty:
Whether we’re talking about stadia or auditoria.

Avery Trufelman:
Or condominia or gymnasium or planetaria.

Roman Mars:
So, historically government programs all over the world loved concrete.

Adrian Forty:
Particularly in Soviet Russia, but also later in Europe and North America, it was used for welfare state projects.

Avery Trufelman:
Concrete presented the most efficient way to house huge numbers of people. And philosophically it was seen as humble, capable, and honest. Concrete was just out there and all of its rough glory, not hiding behind any paint or layers saying, here I am, love me or hate me.

Roman Mars:
And as concrete buildings came to signify humility, honesty, and integrity, they were erected all over the world as housing projects, courthouses, schools, churches, hospitals and city halls.

Chris Grimley:
You’ll stand outside and a tour bus will go by and there’ll be “Ladies and gentlemen voted the most ugliest building in the world – Boston City Hall. How do you compete with that?”

Avery Trufelman:
Chris Grimly is up against a lot, but he’s trying to restore Boston City Hall’s reputation.

Chris Grimley:
My name is Chris Grimly. I’m with my fellow heroic people. Mark Pasnik and Michael Kubo.

Avery Trufelman:
Chris, Mark and Michael have embarked on what they call the Heroic Project, chronicling the concrete structures in and around Boston.

Roman Mars:
Rather than referring to these concrete buildings as “brutalist”, they prefer the term “heroic” because like so many superheroes, these structures have the best, most noble intentions but are sorely misunderstood.

Avery Trufelman:
Also, just generally, “brutalism” is a big broad label that gets used inconsistently in architecture. People tend to disagree on one precise definition.

Roman Mars:
The name “brutalism” also just sounds intense even though it’s not actually related to brutality.

Chris Grimley:
It comes from “beton brut”, which is a French term for raw concrete.

Avery Trufelman:
In any case to these guys, “heroic” feels like a better term, especially in Boston, where concrete architectures swooped in and saved the day.

Chris Grimley:
You’d have to situate Boston in the late fifties-1960s. It is America’s first city. Well, it is America’s most historic city.

Roman Mars:
Again, not really, but I get your point.

Chris Grimley:
And yet it finds itself in the doldrums.

Roman Mars:
Boston, like a lot of other American cities, was plagued by loss of manufacturing jobs and white flight to the suburbs. And for decades, Boston had the highest property taxes in the nation and almost no development.

Chris Grimley:
There is this recognition from civic authorities that something needs to be done and something needs to be done quickly.

Avery Trufelman:
So Boston sets an agenda to make the city great again with big soaring, capable, thoroughly modern buildings made, of course, out of concrete.

Roman Mars:
And though some of these buildings were celebrated, others were really not.

Chris Grimley:
What we call the third rail of Boston Concrete Modernism is City Hall.

Avery Trufelman:
When Boston City Hall was built in 1968, critics were put off by this concrete style. It was called alienating and cold. And since it was a government building, this criticism became impossible to remove from politics.

Roman Mars:
Boston City Hall became a political pond. Mayors and city council members kept trying to win public support with promises to get rid of the building like John Tobin did when he ran for city council.

John Tobin:
Hi everybody. This is Jon Tobin. Thanks for visiting www.votejohntobin.com. Here we are on City Hall Plaza in front of Boston City Hall. I’m not an architect, but I know bad architecture when I see it. This is a bad building and I think we can do a lot by knocking this building down.

Avery Trufelman:
Former Mayor Thomas Menino actually started a study to really look into tearing it down.

Thomas Menino:
It turned out as a result of this study that you would need something like a nuclear grade weapon basically to destroy this building, because it was so heavily overbuilt in concrete.

Roman Mars:
And so when they couldn’t tear down City Hall, officials chose to ignore it.

Thomas Menino:
People that occupied the building for decades and decades didn’t like it, and so they didn’t invest money into the building and effectively wanted to see the building go away.

Avery Trufelman:
This is called active neglect and it happens with a lot of concrete buildings. They are intentionally unrepaired, unrenovated and uncared for.

Roman Mars:
Which only makes the building more awkward and then more hated and then more ignored and creates this vicious cycle where the public hate of Boston City Hall feeds itself.

Thomas Menino:
And then the discussion in years on really became about what the original architect had done wrong, as if this were not a failure of maintenance, but a failure of the initial design.

Avery Trufelman:
When people built these mammoth concrete structures, no one really thought about maintenance. They seem to be indestructible.

Adrian Forty:
In the early days of concrete, people assume that this was an everlasting material that wouldn’t need any attention at all and that’s wrong. We know that it does need to be looked after. It does deteriorate. It does decay.

Avery Trufelman:
But it can be hard to tell when concrete is decaying.

Adrian Forty:
If you think of brick and timber, the decay takes place on the surface of them, but with concrete, the deterioration is internal.

Roman Mars:
Concrete deteriorates chemically from the inside out. Part of this has to do with the metal reinforcements that help hold up most concrete buildings, the rebar, where it can rust, and the rust eats away at the overall structure.

Avery Trufelman:
But Adrian Forty says, tearing them down is not the answer.

Adrian Forty:
Because as soon as you tell them down, then you have a problem. First of all, what you do with the detritus that’s left. And secondly, you’ve got to replace them with something else and use up a whole lot more energy and create a lot more CO2 in building something in their place.

Avery Trufelman:
They already used up all that energy when they were made. They’re already there.

Roman Mars:
We can adapt these buildings to make them greener and make them more appealing places to be by adding windows, for example. But basically, Professor Forty things we can all develop the capacity to love these concrete brutes in all their hulking glory.

Adrian Forty:
Yeah, sure. People can learn to love anything, but you know, as with any art form, whether it’s opera or painting or literature, the more you know about it, the more you’ll get out of it, the more you’ll appreciate it.

Avery Trufelman:
And this is especially true of concrete buildings. Architecture students appreciate them because they know that concrete actually requires a hell of a lot of skill and finesse to work with.

Adrian Forty:
To do architecture in concrete is proof that you are really are an architect. It’s the test of being an architect.

Avery Trufelman:
For, the concrete building, every little detail needs to be calculated in advance. Concrete is wildly intimidating to work with. Once you pour it, there’s no going back

Adrian Forty:
With a concrete building. It’s like the result of an immaculate conception. The whole thing is an integral monolithic hole and it has to be right.

Roman Mars:
Aside from the interesting design challenges it poses, concrete itself, as a material, can be subtly beautiful if you look closely.

Sarah Ramsey:
What we think of as just a monolithic, consistent homogenous texture, is actually really rich and has a lot of interest when you actually go up to it and consider it.

Avery Trufelman:
Sarah Briggs Ramsey, the one I spoke with at Berkeley’s Wurster Hall, did a year long project traveling around the world looking at concrete buildings in Europe and Asia and South and North America.

Sarah Ramsey:
To create a global comparison of one material that I think is so sort of under considered. It’s like the background of all the cities, but no one actually stands to look.

Avery Trufelman:
We call the city “a concrete jungle” to talk about the artificialness of the urban landscape. But concrete can actually be a very natural expression of the environment. Concrete’s color and texture can be dictated by local climate, local earth and local rock.

Sarah Ramsey:
This is the Harvard Science Center on the Harvard campus and it’s got a very purple-y, like really pronounced purple-y color, and that’s the ground from the site.

Roman Mars:
Concrete can also be an expression of local style and custom, like how UK concrete has big, thick textured chunks of rock. While Japanese concrete is very fine and flat.

Avery Trufelman:
But the beauty of concrete architecture is all the better when you can just observe the buildings, like pieces of sculpture, without actually having to live and work in them. Which brings in concrete, surprising ally – photography.

Adrian Forty:
Concrete looks good in photographs.

Roman Mars:
It provides this kind of neutral background.

Adrian Forty:
It provides a wonderful setting for people’s skin tones, color of clothes.

Roman Mars:
Fashion photographers realize this first, and then pockets of the internet started to appreciate these concrete buildings.

Adrian Forty:
There are lots of these blogs of which show a kind of extraordinary enthusiasm for concrete.

Avery Trufelman:
Photography is allowing a new audience of non-architects to appreciate these buildings for their strong lines, their crisp shadows, and increasingly, the idealism they embody.

Adrian Forty:
They represent a set of ideas about the state of the world on what the future was imagined to be, that we want to preserve. We should remember what people were thinking 50 years ago. We tear these buildings down, we will lose all of that.

Roman Mars:
Architecture, whether we want to admit it or not, has this sort of shelf life. A time after which buildings fall out of fashion and then are allowed to fall apart.

Avery Trufelman:
Back in the 1960s, Victorian-style buildings were considered hideous, falling apart, impossible to repair, and we were tearing batches of them down. All the while erecting big concrete buildings. But enough Victorians were saved that today they are these beautiful, lovingly restored treasures.

Roman Mars:
Brutalist, heroic, whatever you want to call it. Concrete architecture now finds itself at a potential inflection point. Too outdated to be modern, too young to be classic. And a small but growing band of architects, architecture enthusiasts and preservationist would like us to just wait a bit and see. Maybe with a little time and love, we might discover some architectural diamonds in the rough that we just can’t see right now.

Comments (37)

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  1. Joel

    I cannot wait for the Berlin Wall-style demolition of Boston’s City Hall. I’ll fly back just to participate.

  2. Thomas

    I’m not sold at all. Concrete’s hard to work with? Fine. That’s not the point of living and working spaces. People who have to spend a lot of time in these buildings don’t care about the techniques involved in designing the building. Design like architecture should allow one to comfortably pursue their goals in that space. Functional design should work for the user, not force the user out of their routine to think “wow, design.” If the design of the space is distracting, unpleasant for you and your peers, constantly intrudes on your thoughts, and depresses you, that seems like a problem. At one point in the episode, I thought this concept might get some attention; Avery pointed out that buildings are more than just sculptures to look at–they’re places where people have to live and work. But this was quickly breezed over to talk about how these buildings are “neat backgrounds” for photographers. Also not the point of living and working spaces. The pictures accompanying your episode here seem to be the best available examples of “brutalist”/all-concrete architecture, but not all of the all-concrete structures from the era seem to have been so thoughtfully designed. Not every building is designed by a great architect. Instead, like at my campus, the buildings are literally just blocks of concrete, a single rectangular prism, with prison-like slits for windows in them. I hate it. You say that people used to talk about how “hideous” Victorian architecture was, and that we should give concrete a little more time to attain the same classical status. Personally, I have a much more pleasant instinctive reaction to Victorian architecture. Maybe that’s environmental, and I’m conditioned to think that. Maybe later generations may be conditioned to think that concrete blocks are pleasant to look at. Frankly, though, if you want to tell other people that they should wait around in these prison-like structures on the off chance that they’ll “get used to it,” I think you should come podcast at my brutalist campus and let me work in your posh Arcsine building while we wait for the glorious dawn of heroic (can’t believe you kept a straight face with that word) understanding.

    1. “Personally, I have a much more pleasant instinctive reaction to Victorian architecture.”

      I think this really gets to the crux of the issue, doesn’t it? These days we can’t possibly imagine that the general public hated Victorian buildings, but they really did. The vitriol was incredible – they were genuinely, truly HATED. And before that we hated Georgian buildings, and before that, we hated Classical buildings, and before that… well, we all get the idea.

      Just listen to another recent 99pi episode, ‘Penn Station sucks’. We can’t possibly imagine today that anyone could ever have wanted the original Penn Station torn down, but it was only the architects who saw much value in keeping it – the general public had an ‘instinctive reaction’ to not mind at all when it was being demolished. Why are we so able to recognise another society’s instinct as wrong, and so unwilling to question our own? I suspect we may need to question our assumptions about the whole spectrum, and I DEFINITELY think we should be careful about making any kind of judgement that relies on an argument of ‘it is natural/obvious/clear to everyone that…’

      Now, Penn Station was just over 40 years old when it was torn down, and most people didn’t particularly care for it. How old is your campus? Going further, can we think of any really bad, or really ugly, old buildings? And if we can’t, is that because they never existed, or simply because we stop thinking of the qualities our ancestors found negative in the same way, and start simply calling them ‘period features’ or ‘character’ or ‘reminiscent of a more romantic era of architecture’? I suspect there’s more of the latter to these things than any of us might find comfortable.

      Now, I’m entirely willing to believe that your campus may well be incredibly ugly and that you and most other people may genuinely hate it, but I also believe that there’s a lot more subjectivity to this than we as a society are entirely able to comprehend or willing to admit. With that in mind, I think it’s worth erring on the side of caution. As those quietly-protesting architects called out to the uncaring masses: “polish, don’t demolish!”

    2. Thomas

      @Daveybot

      As I wrote originally, I’m willing to concede that this may be some phenomenon of “collective conditioning” to changing styles. I do remember the Penn Station episode, and can appreciate that point. Since you seem knowledgeable about the subject (I am a loafing layman), and now I’m somewhat intrigued, maybe you could answer a couple questions for me.

      1. What examples would you point to for demonstrating how the general public hated Victorian buildings? It would be interesting to see people expressing the sentiments I have expressed about brutalist design, but about a style that does seem totally different in today’s light.

      2. An example of contemporary architectural design that I really like, and have been able to tour, is the new School of Architecture and Planning at the University of New Mexico. (not my campus, incidentally.) When all this concrete architecture was in vogue–I’m assuming about 40 years ago–did the general public seem to appreciate it in the way that I (and I suspect others) appreciate the UNM building? Does this mean that public appreciation of architecture follows a “V”-pattern over time, starting with high appreciation at the time of construction, followed by a nadir, before it rebounds into “classical” status?

  3. I love that you just did an in-depth article on Brutalism. It is a great story in the modern history of Architecture.

    Your listeners/readers may find my upcoming book really interesting: it’s called “The LEGO Architect”, and it teaches 7 styles of architecture through LEGO, with history, photos of iconic buildings, amazing LEGO models in the style, and instructions to build your own LEGO models. It includes a whole chapter on Brutalism!

    You can learn more about the book at http://thebrickarchitect.com/book or in this amazing preview of the book at http://www.archdaily.com/770690/how-to-become-a-lego-r-architect

    (The Cover of the book is a LEGO re-creation of early Brutalist building Unité d’habitation by Le Corbusier.)

  4. Rick

    Great episode! If you decide on a followup of some kind, may I suggest delving a little into the Ponte City Apartments.

  5. Ricardo

    Nice try but no. I live in a city and country whose architecture is strongly influenced by brutalism and the use of concrete. It makes for very depressing scenery and seems to indicate a lifeless and rundown city. I get the ideas behind and actually admire them, especially about the difficulty of working with concrete, but all of that doesn’t matter to me, if its use is so pervasive and widespread as it is, since it is so aesthetically unappealing.

  6. Daniel Barkalow

    I actually like concrete buildings, but it matters a lot what you do with the concrete. I think concrete allowed architects to add texture on the ~1m scale to building surfaces, which was just not a good idea for buildings. On the other hand, it doesn’t require that you do anything terrible. For example, MIT has a lot of concrete buildings in various styles, including one clearly enabled by concrete’s structural properties (the Stratton Student Center), that aren’t ugly. I’m personally fond of the now-dated rounded-rectangles look of 500 Technology Square, Cambridge, which mostly requires the building be poured rather than built out of parts; this style is clearly old enough to not be in fashion, and newer than Boston City Hall, but it’s not hated. I think that, in order for a building to look nice to the general public, its style has to promote its function; it has to look like it would be nice to occupy (which is separate from whether it actually is nice to occupy).

  7. sam

    Is the new hotel being built on wether ave and n 12 in Williamsburg a brute building?Btw love the podcast

  8. I have a modest appreciation for brutalist buildings, but I’m not a huge fan. I’m glad that the podcast noted that concrete must be maintained in order to hold up over the years. That’s something that really became apparent to me when I visited the MIT campus outside Boston — the concrete structures there look pretty nice because they’ve been kept up fairly well. But as nice as that campus was, I enjoyed myself far better across town at the Harvard campus with it’s Georgian architecture.

  9. Julian

    The point that concrete buildings are less energy efficient seems wrong. Concrete buildings have more thermal mass, which while taking more time to heat or cool, allow for lower overall energy costs and lesser peak demand. Glazing on the other hand which architects these days love, is horrible when it comes to energy efficiency.

    1. report from the heartland

      Yes and thank you for pointing that out. Also just recently in New York, “active neglect” brought down Paul Rudolph’s Orange County Municipal Building.

  10. Morgan FitzPatrick Andrews

    Trivia question: Boston’s City Hall inspired what 1970s rock anthem? (Or should I say “concrete anthem?”)

  11. RealGB

    I’m so excited that you’re doing an architectural design story again instead of a person interest story! I miss the old days of 99pi… Please make more episodes like this, they are so good :)

  12. Amit

    The administrative building of the California State University, East Bay used to sit atop the Hayward Hills and was considered a landmark and an eyesore by everyone. It was also deemed completely unsafe in case of an earthquake since it was built a few meters from the Hayward Fault. It was finally brought down in 2013. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KcSkyYkHIOY

  13. aminer

    this was wonderful. and also made me yell out loud, at work.
    brutalism makes me so mad.

    1) you can make concrete structures that aren’t brutalist, that are beautiful, and loved.
    In the early 20th century, Henry Mercer built the Mercer Museum and his house, Fonthill Castle, in true eccentric style and with all the pre-planning necessitated by concrete. He had to plan the decoration beforehand! They are both amazing, beautiful, humane spaces.
    http://www.mercermuseum.org/visit/mercer-museum/about/
    2) both of those buildings, having existed approx 50 years before modernism, have had plenty of maintenance problems. It is total bs to claim that no one knew concrete needed upkeep. Also: the ancient Romans used concrete. That fell apart too.

    No responsible architect doesn’t plan for maintenance. There are numerous anecdotes about modernist libraries that had to be shored up later because the weight of books wasn’t taken into account in the structural calculations.

    Was it all the 3-martini lunches? or just being drunk on American exceptionalism? Or assuming that their buildings would be as disposable as the ones they blithely tore down?

  14. aminer

    I agree with everything Thomas says, here. I’m interested in what the collective delusion was that allowed these buildings to be built. I’d posit that the cost of labor and materials, due to unionization, pushed architects to suddenly want to use something that didn’t require craftspeople.
    And I also agree that it’s rarely what the “general public” thinks that drives these things. I am pretty sure it has a lot more to do with the architects and their ideological fashions. They’d tell the leaders of a city what “modern” looked like, and that’s what got built. But did anyone actually think they were beautiful, or was everyone just going along with the experts?
    That said, it’s true that demolition is incredibly wasteful. I’d love to see some of these hulks with ivy growing all over them, like ancient Maya temples.

    1. Adrian

      @aminer Cost and fashion. Modernism was fashionable, and appealed to the artist in the architect. Concrete is plastic, if you see what I mean! and allowed architects to be artists more than ever before. And there was a need for massive buiding projects, both civic and domestic, and big beton seemed cost-effective. It’s quite remarkable that *before I was born* architecture went through this “brave new world” futuristic era. I guess there was an element of the emperor’s new clothes about that phase, since what was being perpetrated was so audacious and so in-your-face, but it was wonderful too, that we humans could collectively be so open-minded, even for a short time, before resorting to faux-Georgian tropes or lazy walls of glass.

  15. Ben

    I generally am in agreement with the thoughts expressed on 99pi, but I beg to differ here. Overall, I gathered a whiff of elitism in the episode, as if the public should know better than to react negatively to something imposing, hulking, and not built at a pedestrian-scale.

    True, the public at large had visceral reactions to architecture that is now nearly universally appreciated – that is a fair argument to make. No one can make the claim that any design will stand the test of time. But I don’t think it’s fair to outright discredit every non-expert, i.e., the public at large. It’s arrogant and condescending to argue that people just don’t know any better, when they are the ones that must live and work in these environments.

  16. I’d encourage anyone interested in this topic to google “Tbilisi Roads Ministry building” or just modern architecture in Georgia (the country) in general…some pretty wild buildings.

  17. za

    The fact that Goldfigner’s buildings were designed by a man who quite obviously hated humanity, who could possibly expect those buildings to be beloved by the very people he hated?

    More pointedly, what business did he even have to BE an architect?

  18. super8ude

    Unfortunately I associate Wurster Hall with a suicidal depression, typical of how my disposition while studying at the CED.

    Hard to love it after that, though perhaps in a masochistic way.

  19. Chad

    Although I love love the podcast and this episode I found very interesting, I am a bit disappointed in one thing though it derives from a selfish reason, and that is no mention of the UIC campus in Chicago which I attend! Not only is the whole campus comprised of brutalist, but it was contoversial due to the fact of tearing down the surrounding areas and was even featured largely in the iconic horror film, Candyman. They sadly have torn down different aspects of the campus to “beautify” it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/University_of_Illinois_at_Chicago#/media/File:UICUniversityHall.jpg

    This photo is the place that I have to go in order to take my Chinese tutoring every week!

  20. Lewy

    I believe the building that really raised Fleming’s ire was 1-3 Willow Road on the Heath in London. It was Goldfinger’s family home, completed in 1939 and involved the demolition of several cottages close to Fleming’s own London residence. They were about 10-20 years ahead of their time and must have looked horrifying to anyone who appreciated a more traditional London home. Having lived in a similar apartment I can’t attest to them being wonderful to live in but a little hard to look at.

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