By continuing to use the site you agree to our Privacy & Cookies policy

Your browser seems to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser.


Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.


Obituary: John Penn, 1921-2007

Modernist architect John Penn, who spent the bulk of his working life designing houses in Suffolk, has died at the age of 85.

Born in Northamptonshire in 1921, Penn had a grand upbringing, attending Eton before studying history, and then architecture, at Trinity College Cambridge.

His architectural education was interrupted during the Second World War, when he served in the armed forces, and he did not graduate until the 1950s.

Penn moved to the US shortly after graduating, where he worked with Richard Neutra in Los Angeles, and later with SOM in New York, before moving back to Britain to settle in Suffolk.

Architectural historian Richard Gray thinks Penn's most renowned works are his nine houses in Suffolk, all with flat roofs.

Gray said: 'Penn never gained much publicity, as it wasn't really there at the time. He was strongly influenced by Mies van der Rohe, and was one of few people at the time who applied the Classical design of Roman villas, with their symmetry and formality, to Modernist design.'

An exhibition displaying Penn's work is opening at the end of March at the Margaret Howell Gallery in London's Wigmore Street, which hopes to bring his architecture to a wider public.

John Penn: born 11 March 1921 died 14 February 2007.

by Richard Vaughan

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment.

The searchable digital buildings archive with drawings from more than 1,500 projects

AJ newsletters