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Modernism: Modernist Materials

Modernist architects tried to present an honest expression of how they used materials in a building's construction, frequently using reinforced concrete, steel frames, ribbon windows and curtain walls.

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Commercial Union Tower (Aviva Tower), I Undershaft, City of London, seen from Leadenhall Street

Gollins Melvin Ward & Partners
NOTES: This tower was originally built as a pair with the P & O Building at 122 Leadenhall Street which was demolished in 2008.

Schocken department store, Chemnitz

Mendelsohn, Eric (1887-1953)

Penguin Pool, London Zoo, Regent's Park, London: ramps under construction

Lubetkin Drake & Tecton
NOTES: This was Tecton's second commission for the Royal Zoological Society, the site consisting of a series of derelict ponds and a paddock. A dramatic design was needed to show off the antics of the penguins and this was achieved by two cantilevered ramps spiralling around one another without any intermediate support. The surrounding trees were kept and a cover provided around part of the elliptical structure to protect the penguins from the sun. The flat paths were coated with plastic rubber, the steps were of slate and the concrete ramps were kept wet by a revolving fountain. The structure was allowed under a clause in the London Building Act which exempted from the regulations buildings under a certain size which were not destined for human habitation and which were more than 30 ft from any other building. The pool had been allowed to fall into a state of disrepair after the Royal Zoological Society encountered strong opposition to its plans for major alterations in 1951. The pool was listed in 1970 and restored in 1988. The executive architects were Lubetkin and Drake.

Model demonstrating the assembly of a prefabricated concrete construction system for Westville Road Primary School and Brandlehow Road Infants School, Hammersmith, London

Goldfinger, Erno (1902-1987)
NOTES: Goldfinger invented his own prefabricated concrete system for the building of Westville Road Primary School and Brandlehow Road Infants School. A crane moved across a concrete platform, dropping the uprights into holes prior to positioning the cross beams into the grooves, as demonstrated in this model.

Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King, Liverpool: paving detail and the junction of the flying buttresses with the outdoor podium

Frederick Gibberd & Partners
NOTES: This building comprises three independent types of structure: an in-situ reinforced concrete frame which holds together the main body of the cathedral; the sixteen load-bearing brick or concrete perimeter buildings, and the flat slab of the outdoor podium supported by concrete columns of load-bearing brick walls.