It is with great sadness that the AA reports the death of the distinguished architect John Winter, who passed away earlier today. A constant friend of the AA, John studied at the school from 1950–53, having earlier completed a pupillage under an Arts and Crafts architect in Norwich.
After a stint of National Service with the Royal Engineers, John attended Yale, where he came under the influence of Louis Kahn. Subsequently he moved to San Francisco, where he worked for both SOM and Charles Eames. On his return to the UK, John joined the office of Erno Goldfinger before setting up his own private practice. During these early years, he not only designed and self-built his own house on Regal Lane, overlooking London Zoo, but undertook a number of important private commissions, including a steel framed house in Wentworth (1964) and cottages and farmhouses in Derbyshire and Yorkshire.
Alongside his practice, Winter taught at the AA, from 1960–64 (his students included Jeremy Dixon, Ed Jones and Nicholas Grimshaw) and acted as the AA’s ‘house’ architect, responsible for many alterations and extensions, including what was initially intended as a ‘temporary’ back extension to the AA bar and terrace. Whilst small, highly thoughtful and individual modernist houses were to become Winter’s chief oeuvre – his 1990 Weekend House, Happisburgh, a superlative example – he also undertook a number of larger-scale housing estate projects in Milton Keynes in the 1970s.
However, perhaps the most celebrated and mourned of Winter’s houses is Hardy House, Swains Lane (1981, demolished 2008), which was situated with stunning views across London and the adjacent Highgate Cemetery and was supported on a central concrete pillar, with the first floor trussed up as a cantilever.
John himself will be sorely missed by the architectural community and at the AA where he not only inspired a generation of students but also made valuable contributions as a member of Council, as Honorary Secretary and as a Trustee of the AA Foundation.
Date Submitted: 12/11/2012