Modernist Semis and Terraces in England  book cover
1st Edition

Modernist Semis and Terraces in England

ISBN 9781138253704
Published November 28, 2016 by Routledge
264 Pages

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Book Description

Between the two World Wars, there was an unprecedented need for new houses in Britain which resulted in a building boom. While only a small percentage of this building took the form of Modernism, there was still a significant number of semis and terraces built for the workers and middle-class families in the 1920s and 1930s built in this style. This book examines these modest Modernist houses within the broader context of the Modern Movement in Europe, as well as the inter-war building boom in suburban Britain. Illustrated with line drawings and photographs of more than 30 examples from around the country, and based on little-known contemporary material such as catalogues, advertisements, radio broadcasts and letters, it shows how these houses speak of a time of political, social and artistic unrest, and a world where the avant-garde architects sought to capture the spirit of modern technology in their designs for the average home owner. While the Modernist houses never became popular with the general public, the fact that so many are still standing and now sought after by twenty-first century families speak for their endurance and special appeal.

Table of Contents

Contents: Preface; Part I Architectural Modernism: Towards modernism in England. Part II Working-Class Estates: The Clockhouse Way estate - Braintree; Crittall's Garden Village - Silver End; The Bata estate - East Tilbury; Lescaze at Dartington Hall; Estates for war workers; Jellicoe's seven secret estates. Part III Modernist Housing - The Inter-War Period: The rise of modernism in continental Europe (1900-1940); Housing in inter-war England; Modernism and its critics - England in the 30s. Part IV Middle-Class Modernism - a Journey Through England: Introduction; Greater London - northern part; Greater London - southern part; The coastline from Cornwall to Essex; Inland locations; Modernism, Art Deco and the suntrap house. Part V Post-War Modernism: Introduction; Modernism 1945-65; The wilderness years and a new Modernism 1965-2010; Appendices; Bibliography; Index.

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Finn Jensen completed an MA in architecture at Liverpool John Moores University in 2006 following a career in the quality and reliability assurance of electronics. He is a doctorate and the author or co-author of three books within this field. Following his retirement as a consultant in 2004, he has devoted his time to the study of domestic architecture, especially in the UK, and is now a full time researcher and writer.


'Finn Jensen is a wonderfully erudite and inspiring guide through a century of architectural modernism in England, from its beginnings soon after the First World War to the "New Modernism" of the last few decades. Modernist Semis and Terraces in England is a thoughtful and sympathetic exploration of a hitherto neglected but vast and important area of British cultural heritage. Instead of reaching for familiar examples of individual modernist houses commissioned by wealthy patrons from well known architects, Jensen reveals the beauty of modernist designs in working-class estates and lower- and middle-class mass housing: those places where modernist achievement is often overlooked and not infrequently threatened. His engaging study takes us from Greater London, along the coast to Cornwall and back inland, into villages, and down suburban and urban streets, and it encourages us to see that modernism has become a very British way of building houses and that it more than merits - and in this book gets - a serious architectural study.' Vesna Goldsworthy, Kingston University, UK 'In the search for ways of building more and better housing we could learn a lot from the 30s, when the semi took off as the standard way of building mass housing. It is the definitive British contribution to house design, with its small garden front and rear, and modern appliances. Finn Jensen provides fresh insights into why the UK departed from the rest of the world, particularly as far as modernism is concerned.' Nicholas Falk, URBED, UK 'Although the story of modern architecture in pre-war England is often told as one of missed opportunities, Finn Jensen's comprehensive study of Modernist semis and terraces shows how close English domestic architecture once came to the Siedlung and woningbouw of European Modernism.' Neil Jackson, University of Liverpool, UK '... there is much of interest to the general reader in this book and Jensen is to be commended for bringing attention to an often o