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Modern Movement architect Birkin Haward dies at 89

Birkin Haward (1912-2002) was connected with the heart of the Modern Movement through his early association with Erich Mendelsohn.

In 1934, soon after Mendelsohn came to England, he won the competition for the Bexhill Pavilion. This greatly excited Haward, then finishing his studies at the Bartlett. He soon found a berth with Mendelsohn and Chermayeff.

When Mendelsohn opened his office in Jerusalem soon afterwards, Haward went out to help start things off.

Haward was born in Ipswich, and it was to Ipswich he returned after war service. There he joined the firm of Johns and Slater, becoming in due course the senior partner. A staunch believer in a social and democratic architecture, he specialised in schools, and designed some of the very best English primary schools of the 1945-70 period, many of them in the neighbourhood of Ipswich. They range from Rushmere School in the austere prefabricated manner of the 1940s to Halifax School (1968-70), a rare example of an open-plan school carried through with thought and grace.

He was always interested in technique, and experimented for some years with timber domes.

His last building was a handsome library block at Ipswich School.

After his retirement in 1982, Haward reinvented himself as a remarkable and original architect-scholar of an almost Victorian vintage.

He wrote compendious books on 19th-century stained glass in Norfolk and Suffolk, and two big studies of medieval Suffolk churches. In the process he photographed, measured and drew out every single medieval church arcade and most of the older church roofs in the county.

A man of great personal modesty, Haward painted and drew beautifully and recorded all his work in meticulous photographs. He leaves two architect sons, the older being Birkin Haward of Van Heyningen and Haward Architects.

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