Architect John Penn brought a taste of Californian Modernism to the English countryside when he built this single-storey home in 1966.
The 1,690 sq ft building in Rendham, Suffolk, is one of nine ‘temple houses’ by Penn. So-called because they sit on slightly raised platforms, the clutch of houses in east Sussex are regarded as his finest work and cemented his reputation as one of Britain’s leading modernist architects.
Penn’s design for the three-bedroom property is heavily informed by his time at the studio of Richard Neutra in California. Neutra’s influence is most apparent in the living room, where full-width windows flood the space with natural light and frame views of the surrounding countryside.
Penn’s work also follows the principles of classical symmetry and pure form mooted by the likes of Mies van der Rohe.
‘Like Mies van der Rohe’s house, Penn’s have the character of temples… the whole composition is lucid and calm, the epitome of the union of the classical and modern,’ wrote Alan Powers in his obituary on the architect in The Independent.
Wandering through the property, rooms unfurl from each other in metered proportion, like the squares of a neatly folded piece of paper.
The property might be a long way from the Californian desert, but it is very much in dialogue with its countryside surrounds, including the 0.4 acre orchard and the adjoining 2.4 acre meadow, whose tawny hues blend with the property’s wood-clad exterior.
While the house has been modernised throughout by its current owners, it still retains many of its original features.