Hailed as one of the most important modern houses in the United Kingdom, the Wimbledon home that British architect Richard Rogers designed for his parents in 1967 has been gifted to the Harvard Graduate School of Design.
Situated on a long and narrow wooded plot adjoining a major road, the house was designed for maximum privacy and seclusion by Rogers and his then wife Su. Rogers reportedly described it as “a transparent tube with solid boundary walls,” and a precursor to the acclaimed Pompidou Center in Paris which he designed with architect Renzo Piano.
Unification of skin and structure is a permeating theme throughout both edifices, with a delicate lattice of steel and glass meshing together. Inside, the house is supported by five prefabricated steel frames. To compensate for the all-glass principal facades, the boundary walls are made of prefabricated insulated panels to provide a sense of closure.
The home has stayed with the family since its construction, despite briefly going on the market in 2013 for nearly $4.8 million just five months after being awarded a Grade II heritage listing. In 1998, Rogers’ son Ab and his family moved in, adapting and extending the home for their own needs, but the signature yellow-painted steel frame and double-glazed facades prevail.
The glazed roof, meanwhile, zipped tight with neoprene (a substitute for putty), is solar-reflecting, evidence that Rogers was thinking ahead of his time. The residence, which represented British architecture in the 1967 Paris Biennale, is noted for its adaptability, with moveable partitions on a neoprene jointing system facilitating reconfiguration of the space to create private areas or open it up for guests.
Inspired by the USA’s West Coast, the sunny facade bespeaks a love of color that permeates the interior, with surfaces in lurid Crayola hues such as apple green and sunflower yellow. The donation of the landmark residence is being handled by Rogers’ charity, the Richard Rogers Charitable Settlement.