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Obituary: Bryn Riches

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Bryn Riches, revered teacher and respected architect, has died aged 71

After qualifying at the Regent’s Street Polytechnic in 1968, he was awarded a travel scholarship to the USA where he first encountered the work of the New York Five, which was to become an important to his thinking about architecture. 

On returning he worked first for Peter Moro, then Colin St John Wilson before a longer formative period spent with James Stirling. He left Stirling’s office in the mid 1970s when the project for Olivetti’s proposed distribution centre in Milton Keynes was cancelled. Bryn was the project architect and appears in Leon Krier’s witty perspective drawing of the concourse.

He then moved to Suffolk, designed a school for Norfolk County Council, began building what was to be the first of a series of houses, and commenced his long career as a part-time design tutor, first at Cambridge, then Canterbury and later Kingston.

Never one to impose his own ideas upon students, his inimitable way of helping to tease out a parti that offered a coherent sequence of spaces was always combined with making well-considered spatial relationships to context; eternal verities shared by many influenced, as Bryn was, by Colin Rowe, Rossi and Krier.

More recently he worked with his wife Anna Hummel where he designed two remarkable houses in Guildford and Denton, Norfolk.

If there was one place he was happier than on a building site, it was an auction house. His extraordinary collection of prints, vases, marble busts, violins and African musical instruments adorn the Guildford house, a Soanean interior housed in a structure that reveals his interest in the layering of late Terragni, early Graves and Meier.

He is survived by Anna, their children Ellen and Louis, and William and Leone from his former marriage.

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