The arrival of Modernism

The Homewood plan

Homewood - drawings_530x790

The Homewood plan
Architect: Patrick Gwynne (1938)
Drawing: Patrick Gwynne (1938)
Source: RIBA British Architectural Library Drawings & Archives Collection

Architects rarely have carte blanche - the opportunity to create buildings as they would like. Clients, workmen, plus the constraints of budgets and time usually get in the way. Hence the interest in architect’s houses: although small in scale, these intense works shout out ideas otherwise frustrated, offering a precious chance to enter the architect’s mind.

The Homewood was not an architect’s house, but as good as. Designed by Patrick Gwynne (1913 – 2003) for his parents, it reveals Gwynne as a cherished, if not indulged son. Fresh from training and in his early twenties, he was given the commission to design this lavish house that broke the mould. One of the earliest Modernist houses in Britain, the Homewood was much inspired by Gwynne’s encounters with Le Corbusier’s villas on the outskirts of Paris. Accommodation is mostly on the first floor, the house floating over its mature wooded gardens, visible from the vast windows throughout.

This drawing’s presentation matches the novelty of the house itself. Few contemporary British architects were as daring in their mixing of media. Photographs, pen and ink and watercolour combine, almost seamlessly. Stencilling, highlighted with wash, continues this strange mix. And the images themselves are a strange mixture of shapes: most are rectilinear, but curves emerge, such as the playful photograph of the staircase. Added to this, are the captions. Captivating images are accompanied by sharp word-play: the house is poised over the garden, detached but dominating. And, perhaps best summing up the experience of the Homewood altogether: the design is made formal but easy-flowing.


About the online exhibition

'How We Built Britain' is a major collaboration with the BBC


Images in the exhibition are from RIBApix, a growing database dedicated to providing you with exceptional and unique images from the RIBA British Architectural Library's collections.

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