This 1950s five-bed near Watford may not be the grandest or most imposing house we’ve ever featured, but it is one of the most important.
A super-rare example of a completed domestic commission by the celebrated architects Alison and Peter Smithson, The Sugden House has been described as “an art work” and “a seminal English house” and was recently awarded a Grade II listing by Historic England.
Designed for Derek and Jean Sugden back in 1955, this is the first time it’s ever been available to buy. Derek, an acclaimed acoustic engineer at Arup, was responsible for the acoustics of Snape Maltings, Glyndebourne, Theatre Royal Glasgow and concert halls at the Barbican, Bridgewater and the Jacqueline du Pré Music Building among others, and gave the following – now famous – brief: “A simple house, an ordinary house, but that this should not exclude it from being a radical house”.
Historic England describe the Smithsons as “one of the most influential [architects] of the post-war period nationally and internationally”, and said of the property when listing it in 2012: “The superficial simplicity of the exterior treatment belies the subtle nuances of the design, expressed particularly in the form and arrangement of the windows”.
The mixed references to American Modernism, Arts & Crafts and more – at a time when most were obsessing over the glam designs going up across California and Scandinavia – have led some to call the project a forerunner to the Post Modern movement that appeared some 20 years later; in his obituary for Derek Sugden in Building Design in 2015, Mark Swenarton noted how the house had gone on to become a “place of pilgrimage” for architecture students worldwide.
The Modern House has been instructed and is asking £1.25m. Full details here.