James Bond Brutalism

James Bond Brutalism

If you’re travelling out from London, watch out to your right. You’re looking for the Trellick Tower, a large high-rise apartment block , remarkable for its design AND its connection to the international super spy James Bond.

Opened in 1972, it’s a famous example of the architectural style known as Brutalism. However its in-your-face look was unpopular after its completion, and it soon became a magnet for crime. By the 90s, though, it was a more desirable place to live, and nowadays it’s a London landmark.

“No Mr Bond, I expect you to die”

But more juicy is its connection with James Bond, by way of its architect. One Ernő Goldfinger. That’s right, the same Goldfinger as the Bond villain.

Now one version of the tale has it that the real Goldfinger was a very difficult man to work with. A bully. Ian Fleming, the creator of James Bond, heard about Goldfinger over a game of golf and thought the name too good not to be used for a villain.

Another version contends the name was chosen as revenge. The architect was demolishing houses in the twee London suburb where Ian Fleming lived, to replace them with a Brutalist modern home. So Fleming’s giving the name of ‘Goldfinger’ to an unpleasant megalomaniac villain was his way of saying ‘screw you’ in return.

A third version has it that there was anti-Semitism in Fleming’s creation of a gold-loving villain named after a famous, real-life Jewish émigré.

Litigation and threats

Whatever the name’s origin, after the book was published harsh words ensued. Goldfinger consulted his lawyers but Fleming wasn’t one to back down. He threatened to add a note in every published copy of the book, changing the name from ‘Goldfinger’ to ‘Goldprick’… and explaining to readers why.

Eventually things were settled out of court and the name Goldfinger – and the Trellick Tower – stand as they are today.

~ For the travellers ~