Private house and separate studio/housekeeper’s flat, 1968-70 by Richard and Su Rogers with John Young, for Richard Rogers' parents. Engineer: Anthony Hunt.
Reason for Listing
22 Parkside, Wimbledon, a house of 1968-70 by Richard and Su Rogers for Richard Rogers's parents, is listed at Grade II* for the following principal reasons:
*Architectural and structural interest: an early, executed example of a High-Tech, steel-framed house in Britain, that takes the steel-framed technology a stage further than previously with its use of prefabricated components and neoprene gaskets;
* Historic interest: an important early work by a very significant architectural practice; it is a highly significant, surviving early British High-Tech building, that developed from the Californian steel frame houses, alongside the smaller Studio, Ulting, Essex (Grade II) built for Humphrey Spender, the Reliance Factory by Team 4 (demolished) and the Richard and Su Rogers 'Zip-Up' houses (unbuilt);
*Experimental use of materials and techniques: in particular factory-finished components and dry construction, and in the lightness and precision of steel, which allowed clear spans required for open-plan living and flexibility;
*Planning interest: separate, single-storey units spanning the width of the plot and set round a courtyard, to provide a secluded and versatile living/work place;
* Intactness: the intention, structure and main built-in fittings are clearly legible, alongside later modifications, an endorsement of its versatility.
No. 22 Parkside was built as a private house and separate studio in 1968-70 by Richard and Su Rogers for Richard Rogers’s parents, Nino and Dada Rogers. The studio was originally intended for Rogers’s mother, who made pottery, with accommodation for a visitor or domestic help, and continues in use as a furniture design studio. The building was a response to a demand for flexibility, with Rogers’s close relationship to his parents making a perfect environment for his rich imagination. The house made a feature of their collection of furniture by Ernesto Rogers and Charles Eames.
Set out in two separate single-storey pavilions with a courtyard in between, the house was set in a mature garden, concealed by the house which fills almost the complete width of the narrow plot. The studio/office acts as a buffer between the house and the street, and is itself protected by a landscaped mound that adds to the seclusion.
This is a ‘skin’ building; the steel frame is internalised, to reduce maintenance of the structure and problems of the skin being pierced. Anthony Hunt engineered a frame that provided both uninterrupted glazing and a clear space inside – very different to the more cellular house and studio built for Humphrey Spender at Ulting in 1967-8 (listed Grade II).
No. 22 Parkside, Wimbledon, and The Studio, Ulting were designed by a practice at a pivotal stage in its architects' careers and at a turning point for post-war British architecture. Both houses were built soon after the Rogers had set up on their own in 1967, following the disbanding of Team 4 (Richard Rogers, Norman and Wendy Foster and Georgie Wolton). They are extremely important as examples of successful and surviving early High-Tech building, with Team 4’s Reliance Controls factory (1967) now demolished and Richard and Su’s Zip-Up Houses (1968, 1971) never built. The two houses represent significant departures from the domestic architecture seen at Creakvean (Team 4, 1964-7, Grade II*). Richard and Su Rogers had seen the light, steel houses by Charles Eames, Raphael Soriano and Craig Ellwood in California, including their much-studied Case Study Houses, and brought this minimal style to Britain, adding strong colour. They encapsulate the young architects’ research-orientated experimental practice, embracing new materials and techniques. In particular, they display an interest in factory-finished components and dry construction, in the lightness and precision of steel, which allowed the clear spans required for open-plan living, and in designing for flexibility and demountability. At 22 Parkside, an integral part of the design is the freestanding kitchen unit which divides the main living space, together with sliding doors and cupboards that divide the two bedrooms and the former study.
Although they never became the prototypes for others as was intended, these experimental houses were seen at the time as a ‘milestone’ (Architects' Journal 6 October 1971 p.755), and represent very important markers in the history of the British steel house, and indeed of the post-war house in general.
No. 22 Parkside developed in important ways from the design of the Studio, Ulting of the previous year, as it has an internal frame without bracing, and an open plan. The use of prefabricated, pre-finished wall panels would lead to designs for the Zip-Up house, where these panels became structural. Larger than the Spender house (The Studio, Ulting), 22 Parkside provided greater scope for successful internal spaces, and was built to a higher specification.
Richard Rogers, now Lord Rogers of Riverside, was born in 1933 in Florence. He trained at the Architectural Association and Yale University before setting up the Team 4 practice with Norman Foster and others in 1962. Their house for his parents in-law, Creekvean in Feock, Cornwall (1964-7) was listed Grade II in 1998 and upgraded to Grade II* in 2002. Rogers subsequently formed an architectural practice with his then wife, Su Rogers and, from 1970-77, worked with the Italian architect Renzo Piano. Their Pompidou Centre building in Paris, which opened in 1977, is a major landmark of the High-Tech style, with a completely steel frame that was not allowed in the City of London. Another Rogers' design, the Lloyd's Building, City of London (1981-86, listed Grade I) is regarded as a seminal building that exemplifies the High-Tech style in Britain for its boldly expressed services and flexibility of plan. Other major works by Rogers include: the Channel 4 Building in Westminster, the law courts in Strasbourg, Bordeaux and Antwerp, the National Assembly of Wales in Cardiff, the Barajas Airport in Madrid and Terminal 5 at Heathrow Airport.
The buildings are similarly designed, with internal clear-span rigid steel portal frames; five for the house, three for the studio. They are in standard steel sections and are painted yellow. The south-east and north-west walls are fitted with white pvc-coated smooth aluminium sandwich panels with a plastic core, which are completely prefabricated, and linked together with a neoprene zip jointing system. Openings are circular or with rounded corners, with rubber seals, and include side-hung bus doors, a circular iris to the utility area, and a cat flap. North-east and south-west walls have full-height double glazed sealed units with sliding components, one of which is the front door. The flat roof is felted wood wool slabs with a skylight to the bathroom. There is a paved terrace and paths.
In plan the buildings are set out as two separate single-storey pavilions; the almost square house and a smaller rectangular studio/flat, with a courtyard in between. The studio with its landscaping thus acts as a buffer between the house and the street. The main house is approached from the street along the south-east site boundary and entered on the corner of the south-west façade, directly into the living room. The house is open plan, with a large living dining area, two bedrooms either side of an internal bathroom/utility area and a former study/consulting room now used as a children’s bedroom/playroom. The kitchen area is defined within the living area by a counter running along the south-east side, created by Richard and Su Rogers as an integral part of the design. A series of sliding walls, which can be stacked in front of the bathroom core, divide the living space from the two bedrooms and study on the north-west side. Sliding doors separate the bedrooms, utility and study. The internal planning of the studio has been altered by the architect, filling in the carport to adapt it as a flat; it is now (2013) used as a studio again.
The solid walls of the house are close to the site boundary so that the glazing predominates, and provides views right through the house. The studio/flat is similarly designed; its street façade is largely obscured by planting.
Inside, the original strong colour scheme remains with a bright yellow steel frame, timber and blinds and lime green sliding walls. The floor is white urethane resin (now yellowed with age). Internal walls are the interior face of the white-coated sandwich panels or are fully glazed. There is a white suspended heated ceiling, with ceiling lights inset. A shoulder-high band of bright yellow cupboards across the living space conceals the kitchen, which has a stainless steel counter. The main bedrooms have built-in mirror-doored cupboards. The small utility room doubles as a spare bedroom with drop-down children’s bunks. The main bathroom has a mirrored wall above the stainless steel sink unit, and a fully glazed ceiling. The studio has been adapted, first as a flat and now as a studio again.
Landscaping is an integral part of the design, with a planted mound obscuring the street, a paved courtyard between the two units and to the rear, where there is informal planting and where old trees were retained.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.