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steel design

Largely hidden from the street by a mound and foliage, the house consists of two single-storey pavilions made up from chrome-yellow plot- wide portal frames. There are three frames for the studio flat at the front, five for the main dwelling across the courtyard. Side walls are skinned with neoprene-jointed plastic-coated composite panels, and all the end walls are glazed. Richard Rogers once described it as a 'transparent tube with solid walls only at the boundary'.

It made a profound difference to the way I thought about buildings. First there was the sheer audacity. The audacity of things like the escape window from a double-decker bus in the blank side wall. And the circular window nearby which had an iris diaphragm taken from a ventilation system. It was something you put in an air duct to control the air rate and it was never designed to be seen. But someone in the Rogers office had seen the beauty in it.

The second thing was the reality of visiting it and beginning to understand the relationship between the kitchen and the living room and bedrooms. The Rogers' intention was that the whole building could be completely opened up to involve everyone. Guests and friends and family were all part of the same process of living and eating and sleeping. It represented an idea of how you might live as a family. Coming from an estate in Glasgow it was a bit of a shock for me. The building is lightweight and many walls are movable. The penalty is that there is not a lot of acoustic privacy.

It's actually a self-effacing building from the street despite the searing chrome-yellow frame, but once you are inside the interiors are very brightly coloured and you are constantly reminded of the handling of materials. It is still in pristine condition. John Young told me that when it was being built he kipped on site. It meant he could reject anything that had even a scratch on it. That level of detailing is why it looks as fresh as when it was built.

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