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Veteran Modernist John Winter dies aged 82

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Influential Modernist architect John Winter has died aged 82

The architect, who designed a number of groundbreaking homes, died from respiratory failure in Cambridge yesterday with his family.

Winter had lived and worked at the home he designed himself in Swains Lane, Hampstead until just before his death.

Having practiced for more than four decades, he was well known for his elegant new-build housing and sensitive restoration of early Modernist structures.

His eldest son Tim Winter said: ‘Building two houses for his own family gave him a great sense of what makes for good domestic architecture.

He added: ‘Practicality always won out over ideology for him: these were buildings for real life, buildings which were supremely honest as well as graceful. Envy any child or teenager nurtured in a Winter home.’

Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft said: ‘As well as doing new-build housing he developed a specialism in very modest but very understood renovations of early Modernist buildings when they were pretty unloved.

‘His low-tech interventions meant those buildings were able to survive.’

According to The Daily Telegraph website, Winter never had a planning application refused.

In 2008, Eldridge Smerin Architects replaced Winter’s 85 Swains Lane (built in 1982) with a new larger scheme.

The practice’s Nick Eldridge said: ‘John Winter was from a generation that understood the value of resources. His own 1969 cor-ten house in Highgate had inspired me as a student and when he later showed me the house, he explained that the proportions and grid had been set by the dimensions of the cor-ten sheet and that nothing had been wasted.’

He added: ‘He maintained a Miesian rigour and a pragmatism that always provided him with reassuring guidance in his career as an architect.

‘When I mentioned that I had been commissioned to replace a 1980 steel house that he had designed in Highgate Cemetery he just said “there will be no hard feelings so long as what you build is better than what you demolish”.

‘In his critique of the new house published in 1980 he generously wrote “I think it is better”.

‘I shall miss John and our occasional lunches in Highgate. His cor-ten house will however live on and be a constant inspiration.’

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