66 Frognal

66 Frognal was built for solicitor Geoffrey Walford. He had already begun to conceive of and design his house, without a site in mind and before he appointed an architect. However, Walford and his family only lived there for a few months following planning delays and rising costs. Walford was vociferous and passionate in his commitment to a modern design, a position not welcomed by the local authority and some other architects, including Reginald Blomfield. Blomfield and Connell faced each other in 1934 in a broadcast debate, 'For and against modern architecture', such was the controversy - an easy thing to overlook with historical distance [1]. Colin Lucas later recalled that 'the house stands as a monument to his [Walford's] determination and as a symbol of the modern movement' [2] The reinforced concrete house was one of a series produced by Connell Ward & Lucas over six years that set new standards in British housing design, incorporating Corbusier's 5 points of modern architecture. Critic Ian Nairn referred to it as 'the best' of their houses which was he said, 'tantamount to saying it is the best pre-war house in England'[3]. A grid of free-standing reinforced concrete columns provided the structure and the external walls were cast to carry their own load, with innovative insulating cork layers and coatings to prevent condensation. The free plan of the upper floors gave way to roof terraces that faced east - it was Walford's original insistence that the main aspects faced east and west that had influenced the intial choice of site. The building had some alterations to designs by Trevor Dannatt (apparently approved by Connell Ward & Lucas) in the post-war period and was restored by Avanti in 2000.


[1] Sharp, D. & Rendell, S. (2008) Connell Ward & Lucas. Modern Movement Architects in England 1929-39 (London: Frances Lincoln Ltd.) p.119.

[2]Lucas, Colin. Speech transcript. Lecture at RIBA, 2 March 1976.

[3] Nairn, I. (1964) Modern Buildings in London (London: London Transport) p.44