Richard Rogers is backing Rowan Atkinson’s controversial plans to build a Richard Meier-designed house in rural south Oxfordshire
The American architect’s scheme sparked controversy this week as neighbours lashed out at its designs with one resident of nearby Ipsden village describing it as an ‘ugly space-age petrol station.’
However Rogers has written a letter to the local authority in support of the planning application. He said: ‘The house, like all of [Meier’s] best buildings, belongs to the classical tradition in architecture.
‘The eroded white cuboid is carefully ordered in terms of scale, play of light and shadow, proportion and interlocking spaces.’
His letter goes on to praise Meier as ‘the greatest designer of houses today’.
Rogers, who was highly critical of Prince Charles’ intervention with his Chelsea Barracks scheme, referenced the criticism that was hurled at St Paul’s Cathedral during its construction, adding: ‘All good architecture is modern in its time and is often shocking’.
The five-bedroom scheme will replace the Blackadder comedian’s existing 1930’s farmstead, Handsmooth House, which has been uninhabited since it was purchased in 2006.
Atkinson said in defence of the proposal: ‘I don’t want to live in a house that is weird or futuristic but one that is simple, graceful and elegant.’
Meier has also defended the proposed three-storey structure, saying it would replace ‘a bland, uninspiring and unattractive collection of buildings.’
South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) will make a decision on the planning application in September.
In a separate letter to SODC resident Emma Hulbert said the new house, which would be built on the site of Handsmooth House, would be ‘appropriate in London’ but intrusive in the countryside.
The local parish council also stepped in, saying the planned development, which would feature a two-bedroom guest pavilion and tennis court set in six hectares of land, would be ‘conspicuous and look out of character and place’.
The house is Meier’s first project in Britain and is ‘immensely energy efficient’ according to the architect.
Architectural writer and LSE professor of urban studies Ricky Burdett has also written a letter in support of the application.