1964 - Edwin Maxwell Fry (1899-1987)

Sun House, Frognal Way, Hampstead, London

Designer: Fry, Edwin Maxwell (1899-1987)
Copyright: RIBA Library Photographs Collection (1935)

Fry was always considered one of the star pupils at the Liverpool School of Architecture, where he studied in the 1920s. During this time, Fry came into contact with Wells Coates and Morton Shand, founders of the Modern Architecture Research Group (MARS), a group of which Fry became a leader member.


Fry’s early works in the 1930s comprised mainly housing, in particular the low-cost housing he designed with Elizabeth Denby, and the Sun House, Hampstead, London (1936), the latter characterized by open planning, long continuous windows with balconies and terraces.


From 1943-45, Fry became town planning adviser to the Resident Minister in West Africa. During the war, he married Jane Drew, and together they worked in partnership on a large education building programme in West Africa, when opportunities were thin on the ground for architects in post-war and a Britain in recovery. The most significant building in this period is the complex at Ibadan University in Nigeria.


Government College for Women, sector 11, Chandigarh

Designer: Fry Drew Knight & Creamer
Copyright: RIBA British Architectural Library Photographs Collection (1950s)

Given the Royal Gold Medal 'for the contribution he has made to architecture throughout his life, particularly for the way he has led and inspired younger architects'.


From 1951-54, Fry and Drew designed low-cost housing for the new capital of the Punjab, Chandigarh, in the company of Le Corbusier, whom they invited into the design team. Chandigarh was a real challenge to the design team, faced with combating the extremes of hot and cold, and the building materials available for the schemes. However, it is generally accepted that Fry and Drew’s work there illustrated how the architect can solve any kind of housing problems.


Fry's experience at Chandigarh showed that he was not afraid of collaboration. Already, before the war, Fry's work with Walter Groipus had resulted in Impington Village College, Cambridgeshre (1936), and Denys Lasdun was invited to join the practice in the 1950s.


In later years, Fry’s works included the Pilkington Glass Head Office building at St Helen’s, Lancashire (1963) and the Headquarters of Rolls Royce, Derby.