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What Is 2 Willow Road?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 11 November 2016
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The building 2 Willow Road in Hampstead, London was designed by Erno Goldfiner in 1939 and is the first modernist building acquired by the National Trust. It was originally intended as a home for Goldfinger and his family as well as an innovative way for the architect to explore his own creative outlets at home. The location now serves as a museum containing Goldfinger's extensive art collection and also his groundbreaking designs and furnishings.

Initial plans began in 1936, but Goldfinger met opposition from the London County Council and from locals who sparked outrage in the national press. Famed James Bond novelist Ian Fleming opposed the building's construction, so much so that some believe this inspired him to name Auric Goldfinger, a James Bond villain, after Erno Goldfinger. Eventually, 2 Willow Road became a terrace composed of three buildings. The building contract was assigned to Leslie Bilsby, who constructed it out of concrete and faced it with brick. Intended to be pliable and utilitarian, a large and elegant spiral staircase allows the building to save interior space. With movable partitions and folding doors, the building can be transformed into a studio as well as offering borders for a living room and dining room.

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The Goldfinger family moved into 2 Willow Road soon after its construction was complete. Goldfinger’s wife, Ursula Blackwell, was an artist at the time and had the nursery built for her two children with changeable partitions to create individual rooms. Meals were prepared in a ground-floor kitchenette and placed in a dumbwaiter that was connected to all three buildings. The building became a sanctuary for visiting artists, who in return left their work with Goldfinger. Later in life, Goldfinger's mother moved into the nursery, while his two children, then adults, lived at different times at a flat created on the ground floor. The Goldfingers continued to live at the home until their deaths.

Although facilities are limited, the museum is available for timed visits or for group tours during the day. There is a fee charged to visitors. Tourists can view Goldfinger's extensive art collection, with works by notable artists such as Bridget Riley, Sir Roland Penrose, and Max Ernst. The museum's massive windows overlook Hampstead Heath, which gives the appearance of a country setting in the middle of the city. Wheelchair accessibility can be found on the ground level, but is not available throughout the entire building. Wheelchair users can watch a film that guides them on a virtual tour of 2 Willow Road. Local guided tours are offered, which also include stops at many restaurants, cafes, and pubs in Hampstead village.

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