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Mondrian in 3D

Valeria Carullo

Baldwyns, East Grinstead (1961)

Baldwyns, East Grinstead (1961)
Baldwyns, East Grinstead (1961) Credit: Henk Snoek / RIBA Library Photographs Collection

This truly original country house is the result of the free hand given by owner Fred Kobler, managing director of Grand Hotels in Mayfair, to architects Bronek Katz and Reginald Vaughn. They were asked for a ‘non-traditional’ design, which would also eschew traditional materials such as brick and wood. As the site was not visible from the nearest road, the architects were also given no restrictions in external treatment by the local Town and Country Planning Authority. This photograph shows the fully glazed hall in the centre, with a partially cantilevered upper floor bedroom on the left and the hyperbolic paraboloid roof of the living room on the right. The structure is a frame of steel tubes and the external walls are made of vitreous steel panels of various colours. Katz, born in Warsaw, had moved to the UK after qualifying as an architect in Vienna. In the 1930s both he and Vaughn had worked for Maxwell Fry, whose comparison of one of their designs to a Mondrian finds resonance in the composition of Baldwyns’ main elevation.