233, High Holborn

From Historic England entry:

“Office block. 1930. By Frederick Etchells & Herbert A Welch*. For the advertising agency WS Crawford Ltd, remodelling an existing building. Steel frame construction with brick panel infilling. External finish of roughcast cement with polished black marble ground floor frontage. 6 bays with splayed corner bay. Double entrance doors of plain stainless steel with grille over. Continuous strip windows with frames and mullions of stainless steel glazed with prismatic glass alternate with bands of roughcast. INTERIOR: contemporary internal decor and fittings remained in 1973 but very little now. HISTORICAL NOTE: a pioneer work of the Modern Movement in England, the office block has good claim to be the first office block in England inspired by the International style. Etchells started his career as a Vorticist painter in Paris before the First World War, turned to architecture in the 1920s and was a founding member of the Twentieth Century Group in 1930. In 1927 he translated Le Corbusier’s Vers une Architecture into English: he ended his career restoring churches in Berkshire.

(The Buildings of England: Pevsner N & Cherry B: London, 1, The Cities of London and Westminster: London: -1972)

*Herbert Arthur Welch (1884–1953).

English architect. He made a major contribution to the development of Hampstead Garden Suburb, London, from 1908, where he designed many houses, including gabled work in Denman Drive. He also designed the handsome curved terraces of shops and apartments in Golders Green Road that demonstrate the early C20 change of style from vernacular revival to Neo-Georgian. In collaboration with Frederick Etchells (the translator of Le Corbusier’s works into English), Welch, with Nugent Francis Cachemaille-Day (1896–1976) and Felix J. Lander (1898–1960), designed the pioneering International Modern Crawford’s Office Building, High Holborn, London (1930), with long bands of windows subdivided by steel mullions, much influenced by the Weissenhofsiedlung (a housing estate built for the Deutscher Werkbund exhibition in Stuttgart in 1927. It was an international showcase of what later became known as the International style of architecture.)

A. S. Gray (1985);Muthesius & Germann (1992)

John Astley, author of 2012 book Access to Eden on arts and crafts design and architecture, the garden city movement and housing policy legislation, wrote on 30.04.2018:

I was interested to read Will Wiles’ piece on Peter Barber in ICON 179 but disappointed that while citing Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier with regard to ‘total planning’ he omitted to say anything about British contemporaries. Lloyd Wright (born in Wales of course) did draw extensively on the Arts & Crafts movement, and I would mention two other equally inspired planners/architects, Raymond Unwin (1863-1940) and his brother-in-law Barry Parker (1867-1947). They both drew on Arts & Crafts values in general, and specifically in the realm of planning, design and architecture (a ‘complete’ design approach) for example drawing on the vernacular styles of a local environment, using materials to hand, and with a clear focus on function over form. They were close to Ebenezer Howard, and his Garden City ideals, working with him on Letchworth, the first of the garden cities.”

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