Photograph of Trellick Tower, designed by Ernö Goldfinger


Trellick Tower was designed by the Hungarian architect and designer Ernö Goldfinger (1902–1987) and completed in 1972. The design was influenced by Goldfinger's Balfron Tower, in which he and his wife had lived for two months to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of life in a high-rise property.

Ernö Goldfinger

Goldfinger was associated with Brutalist architecture, which was characterised by large, geometric and functional concrete forms. The term ‘Brutalism’ derives from the French expression ‘béton brut’ meaning raw concrete. In Britain, Brutalism rapidly developed in 1960s London with the erection of buildings such as the Queen Elizabeth Hall (1967), the Hayward Gallery (1968) and the Barbican (built 1965–76).

Goldfinger believed that high-rise social housing like Balfron Tower was a solution to post-war housing problems in Britain. Balfron Tower, the first of Goldfinger's high-rise buildings, was built in 1967 and designed around utopian socialist principles. It features spacious, private flats and ‘sky bridges’ intended to encourage social interaction. In a letter to theGuardian, Goldfinger wrote that, ‘the whole object of building high is to free the ground for children and grown-ups to enjoy Mother Earth and not to cover every inch with bricks and mortar’.[1]

Although Goldfinger’s significance is now acknowledged, his reputation suffered during his lifetime. Incidents of crime, poor building management and design flaws within the Balfron and Trellick towers were widely reported on by the press.

Trellick Tower, J G Ballard and High-Rise

Goldfinger’s Balfron and Trellick Towers have long been associated with High-Rise by J G Ballard. Ballard’s portrayal of architect Anthony Royal, for instance, draws parallels to the two months that Goldfinger and his wife spent living in one of Balfron Tower's apartments. Ballard's 1975 novel depicts a descent into violence and societal breakdown within an ultra-modern high-rise tower in which residents are divided into floors according to social class.

[1] National Trust <> [accessed 21/10/2015]

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Trellick Tower
28 June 1972, Trellick Tower, Golborne Road, west London
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Peter Trulock
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