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Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners

9 November 2012

Spender House Grade II Listed

Architects Richard and Su Rogers have welcomed the listing at Grade II of their innovative building known as The Spender House near Maldon, Essex which was commissioned in 1968 by noted architectural photographer Humphrey Spender.

Richard and Su were inspired by the ideals and design approach of the housing experiments they visited in America, the Case Study houses, designed by architects such as Raphael Soriano and Craig Ellwood. The Spender House was created using industrial materials and construction processes allowing for easy adaptation in the future. The house is essentially a steel-framed box, divided into a regular grid pattern to allow for a car port and a courtyard space in the middle of the project.

The design can be seen as an early marker in the evolution of Rogers’ work and directly followed their work on the Reliance Controls Factory, reinterpreting this simple and adaptable industrial aesthetic for a modern home. This concept would be further developed for the Rogers House in Wimbledon and also forms the basis for the Zip Up Prototype Housing Unit, a concept design that won the ‘House for Today’ competition in 1969. The listing follows the Grade I status granted to the Lloyd’s of London building in 2011.

English Heritage recommended to the Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) that the Spender House should be listed at Grade II because it represents one of the first steel-framed houses in England, inspired by the lightweight aesthetic for residences developed in California in the 1950s. The decision to use precision steel construction when designing a home is considered a milestone in the history of such houses. It is also one of very few projects by Richard and Su Rogers after the disbanding of Team 4, the architecture practice they ran with Norman Foster and his wife Wendy.

Richard Rogers says: “The design of buildings such as the Pompidou Centre with Renzo Piano, Lloyd’s of London, Fleetguard Factory in Quimper, Inmos and Leadenhall can all be traced back to these two houses.”

Su Rogers says: “The design was a direct outcome of our experiences in building three houses using traditional methods of construction – Creek Vean and the two houses in Murray Mews. All were subject to long delays, faulty workmanship and sometimes poor materials. It seemed a good moment to move on to the use of 'hi tech' materials allowing for precision and speed of construction.”

English Heritage historian Elain Harwood said that she admired the Spender House “for its timeless minimalism, its innovation as an economical live-work environment and for the way that, despite its radical aesthetic, it sat so naturally in its orchard setting.”

For further press information please contact:
Robert Fiehn, Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Robert.f@rsh-p.com Tel: 0207 746 0237

Notes to Editors:
Richard Rogers is the 2007 Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate, the recipient of the RIBA Gold Medal in 1985 and winner of the 1999 Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Medal among other awards. Richard Rogers was awarded the Légiond’Honneur in 1986, knighted in 1991 and made a life peer in 1996. In 1998 was appointed by the Deputy Prime Minister to chair the UK Government’s Urban Task Force on the state of our cities. He was Chief Advisor on Architecture and Urbanism to the Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone and has played an advisory role on design to the current Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

Su Rogers founded Team 4 with Richard Rogers and Norman Foster undertaking notable projects. She became a partner in Piano + Rogers Architects in 1970, working on the preliminary designs for the Pompidou Centre in Paris. In 1986 she joined Colquhoun, Miller + Partners as a partner, which subsequently became John Miller + Partners Architects. Since this time she has taken a key role in the practice, with responsibility for the realisation of various large, complex and high profile projects such as the Tate Gallery Centenary Development, the Playfair Project for the National Galleries of Scotland, and the Fitzwilliam Museum Cambridge.