Monday, 12 September 2011

In 1935 an exhibition of working-class flats was organised by the Ministry of Health, to deal with the 'twin problems of overcrowding and slum clearance'. The slums were considered to be a national disgrace - up to six dwellings had to share a single WC and single cold water tap in the worst areas.
The exhibition included flats designed by Maxwell Fry, Sassoon House and Kensal House.

Sassoon House

Kensal House

Sir Hilton Young the Minister of Health described it thus,

"The difference between these well designed flats, with their beautiful courts, and the old blocks of tenements  formally erected is the difference between light and darkness, beauty and ugliness, intelligence and stupidity".
(Architects' Journal, Feb 7, Vol 81, 1935, p213)

Although Sir Hilton doesn't state this, he is in effect comparing Modernism to light, beauty and intelligence.
Modernism was in its infancy in the UK when this exhibition took place. It was seen as the radical solution to a whole host of societal ills.

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