Finsbury, London, UK

Berthold Lubetkin (1938)

In the 1930s the Borough of Finsbury commissioned Berthold Lubetkin’s firm Tecton to deliver a health centre of radical design. The H-shaped building resembled no other hospital that had ever been built before, and encapsulated the technical and aesthetic elements of Modernism. It was a luminous, progressive building, designed to soothe visiting patients. In Lubetkin’s own words “..the curving façade and outstretched arms were intended to introduce a smile into what in fact is a machine”

The central block is flanked by two angled wings, and housing a dozen clinics. It’s clad with glass bricks and features a roof garden, and has colourful ceilings, columns and murals. It precedes the NHS by almost a decade, and at the time became a a symbol of how architecture could be utilised to improve standards of living in deprived areas such as Finsbury. Despite its poor condition today, the Finsbury Health Centre is an important Modernist landmark from an era of promise.