Marcel Breuer, Agatha Christie and Walter Gropius are among the illustrious figures that called London’s Isokon Building home, but their modest apartments paled in comparison to its wood-panelled penthouse.
Now on the market via The Modern House for £950,000, the perfectly preserved 711 sq ft apartment and its expansive roof terrace crown the Grade I-listed Modernist building. The white landmark was built in 1934 by architect Wells Coates in collaboration with his Isokon furniture company co-founders Jack and Molly Pritchard.
Coate’s block in Belsize Park was famed for its ‘cruiseliner’ curves and was the first of its kind to be constructed with reinforced concrete. It quickly attracted a list of famous residents – and even the odd Soviet spy.
It hasn’t been entirely smooth sailing for the building, however. It served as a halfway house in the 1970s and fell into dereliction in 2003 before undergoing an award-winning restoration by Avanti Architects in 2004 that returned its former glamour.
The one-bedroom penthouse was reserved for the Pritchards themselves, who lived in it from 1934 until the mid 1970s. For the last five years it has been home to Skandium furniture store founder Magnus Englund, who’s filled it with Isokon originals (and even co-launched the Isokon Gallery to explore the building’s past). Its birch-veneer walls and chequered wooden floors have been fully restored, and while the apartment itself is ultra compact, the pièce de résistance is its generous terrace.
‘The terrace is bizarrely big and is actually bigger than the flat,’ says Englund. ‘We think that originally Jack and Molly were planning to live in one of the smaller flats downstairs, and that the terrace was supposed to be a communal space for the whole building. But at some point they must have realised that they could have a penthouse on the top floor, and Wells Coates designed this pavilion opening on to the terrace.’
Englund and his wife married on the terrace in 2014, following the example set by Jack and Molly’s son Jonathan, who wed there in 1955.
Would-be owners can learn more about the Isokon building in the ground floor gallery, which explores its rich history. A seasonal exhibition devoted to one of the landmark’s former residents – Bauhaus professor and artist, László Moholy-Nagy – has just opened and runs until 28 October.