In an exclusive last interview that Dezeen filmed with Richard Rogers in 2013, the late architect discusses the concept behind his home in Wimbledon, 22 Parkside.
The interview forms part of Dezeen’s photo series with Rogers to coincide with a retrospective presentation of his work at the Royal Academy of Art in London in 2013.
Rogers, who died on December 18 at the age of 88, was one of the world’s most famous architects, best known for pioneering the high-tech style of architecture that emerged in the 1970s.
He was responsible for designing the Center Pompidou in Paris with Renzo Piano, as well as the Lloyd’s Building in central London.
In this interview, Rogers talks about the influence of the Grade II listed 22 Parkside, also known as the Wimbledon House, which he designed in the late 1960s for his parents in Wimbledon, London.
Rogers hoped the home would demonstrate the potential of prefab homes and revolutionize the housing industry.
“This won’t be a one-off like the previous buildings,” Rogers told Dezen. “This will be a unified system to solve the British housing problem.”
Read on for a transcript of the interview below:
“The Wimbledon house was designed for my parents, I think we started in 1967 and it was through a whole series of different clients and users.
“Now we have given the house to Harvard, and they are using it to house graduate students. We have been very influenced by people like Soriano, Ellwood, Prof, Eames, etc.
“We were looking at prefabricated systems, building processes. The idea was that we could build the house quickly, it could be built entirely in a factory, so you didn’t have all the weather issues, it could be programmed — and the final idea really, you could buy it at your local store, because you can have on standard components.
“We ended up with this simple rectangular plan, made up of two parts, a patio in the middle, and a house on the north side, then we call the inn.
“We decided to use a very simple steel frame, inverted C-shape and you can have whatever you want in a row and the house can be whatever you want.
“Then I bought bus doors and windows and put those doors on the sides and at the ends of that long tube it was just glass, so I looked at the commons or I looked at the gardens as an absolute visual continuity.
“This wouldn’t be a one-off like the previous buildings, it would have been a unified system to solve the British housing problem.
“It didn’t happen, but it did lead to most of the work I do after about 50 years and more.
“In a sense, it was also a prototype for the Center Pompidou. Now Renzo Piano has clearly added his technological knowledge, which is very impressive.
“If you put Wimbledon’s house and put Renzo’s work together, you sort of get the Pompidou Center.
“Now, it’s something much bigger. It has escalators across the facade, and the open spaces on the floors are the size of two football fields, you can’t see that from Wimbledon, etc., but the concepts were there and the colors were bright there.”
“Again, we wanted a place that could be fun, that could be fun, that you could participate in, and that wasn’t just a brick house with cut-out windows.”