Sassoon House, Peckham, London 1934 © English Heritage
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, London 1937 © English Heritage
Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, London 1937 © Super Stock
Elizabeth Denby presents her plan for Britain. Picture Post 8 March 1941, Photo by Felix Man/Picture Post © Getty Images


1933 – 1957  Member Modern Architectural Research (MARS)
1934 Chair of the New Homes for Old Exhibition, Olympia with the MARS Group
1934 Adviser to the Prince of Wales on Housing
1934 Honourary Associate of the Royal institute of British Architects (ARIBA)
1936  First woman to address a sessional meeting of the RIBA


1916 – 1919 Certificate in Social Sciences, London School of Economics


Main Projects
1933 – 1934 Sassoon House, the first modernist workers’ dwellings in Britain, Peckham, London, with Maxwell Fry,
1933 – 1937 Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, London with Maxwell Fry
1934 “New Homes for Old” Exhibition, Olympia with the MARS Group
1937 – 1940 House Furnishings Ltd established
1938 Europe Rehoused, Foreword by Walter Gropius, W W Norton & co., New York “All Europe House” for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition

Elizabeth Denby

Housing Consultant and Social Reformer (1894 – 1965)

“The Star in the Profession she invented for herself.”

    A brief biography of Elizabeth Denby: Housing Consultant,
    Planning Perspectives, 20, July 2005

During the inter-war years, Denby was at the forefront of thinking on architecture and housing developing a distinctively pro-urban theory of planning, with a focus on modernism, to deliver social reform. A member of Modern Architectural Research (MARS) from 1935 Denby’s work was widely recognised and she advised leading modernist architects including: Wells Coates, Erno Goldfinger and Godfrey Samuels as well as local authorities and government agencies. She collaborated with Maxwell Fry on the design of Sassoon House, Peckham, London (1934) the first modernist worker’s dwellings in Britain and Kensal House, Ladbroke Grove, London (1937). In 1936 she became the first woman to address a sessional meeting of the Royal Institute of British Architects; her paper on ‘Rehousing from the slum dweller’s point of view’ shocked those in attendance. The extent of her ideas and influence in the inter-war period helped perpetuate the eligibility of women to comment upon and inform the making of the British landscape into the post-war era. Denby is considered the inventor of the role of “housing consultant” a title that she proudly displayed on her stationery.

download profile:
Elizabeth Denby

further links:

  • Churchill’s Children: The Evacuee experience in Wartime Britain, John Welshman (Chapter I: “Evacuation”: Just Another word)
  • English Heritage: Gaining Recognition: including Elizabeth Denby
  • From here to Modernity: Episode 1, Open University Video. Including Kensal House
  • Housing Problems 1930: Video, Direction and production Arthur Elton, E H Anstey
  • Modern Women: Women Artists at the Museum of Modern Art, Cornelia H Butler, Alexandra Schwartz. (Chapter: Kensal House and the All Europe House – Elizabeth Denby)
  • The Star in the profession she invented for herself: A brief biography of Elizabeth Denby, housing consultant. Planning Perspectives Volume 20, Issue 3 2005
  • Octavia Hill: Social reformer and founder of the National Trust
  • Octavia Hill: her life and legacy