Early proponent of the husband and wife team, who worked on all types of project with precision and skill
With the importance of public projects in the post-war years, Richard and Margaret Finch represented the coming of age of the husband and wife architectural office, when partnerships in work and marriage were less common and the profession was populated with a small number of determined female practitioners.
Dickie and Margaret studied architecture at the Polytechnic in London during the war years. After the war Dickie joined Jim Cadbury-Brown, who had won a commission for the 1951 Festival of Britain Exhibition and needed an assistant.
For an ambitious designer, the 1951 Exhibition was the only outlet for design not restricted by government shortages and Dickie worked on the ‘The Origins of the Land’, part of the concourse, and the Turntable Café. Later, with Cadbury-Brown, he also designed and drew up the boardroom of the Time-Life Building on Bond Street, including designing the furniture. His skillful perspectives were always in demand and he often produced such drawings for others, making friendships with colleagues that lasted into retirement.
At the same time, Margaret had been working on parts of the infrastructure for the London North East Railway at King’s Cross. Despite her qualifications, she was paid less than her male colleagues, and on taking issue with this was told her pay was ‘sufficient for a young woman’. After working for Middlesex County Council on schools, in 1948 she joined Denys Lasdun and Lindsey Drake, who had recently formed a partnership following the break-up of Tecton, to work on the Bishops Bridge Road housing for Paddington Council. Later, for Fry, Drew, Drake and Lasdun she went to Ghana as site architect to supervise the construction of a new village at Tema.
Following his work with Cadbury Brown, Dickie joined his Poly colleagues Walter Greaves, George Subiotto and Gordon Bowyer at Peter Moro, where as chief assistant he effectively took over the conversion of Adastral House, Kingsway, for Independent Television and designed the accommodation for ITN News. In 1958, Dickie set up on his own when Cecil Stillman at Middlesex County Council offered him a commission for a school, and Margaret joined him in their new practice.
For many years they worked for local authorities on public projects including schools, housing and what were then called residential blocks for the ‘mentally disordered’. With a small group of assistants, they enjoyed a wide range of commissions that included occasional private houses and works for the Henry Moore Foundation.
An elegant utility was perfected through these years and, quite rightly, the work of these practitioners is now much admired by architectural students, pored over and often imitated in their own work. At a time when excesses are under scrutiny, this elegant simplicity seems profoundly relevant today.
Dickie was devoted to his work and enjoyed the precision he applied to it, which extended to his hobbies. He studied the history of ships and the craft of ship building and his knowledge was encyclopaedic. Throughout his life he constructed the most precise and accurate model ships, which embody his knowledge, skill and patience.
He is survived by Margaret and many friends.
Brian John Mayes, elected 1968, Sevenoaks, Kent
William Mcquiston Gilmour, elected 1967, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire
David Paul Morris, elected 2000, Southampton
Trevor Fullman, Shrewsbury, elected 1949
David Edward Hoblyn, elected 1970, Abingdon, Oxfordshire
John Michael Jaques, elected 1964, London
Harold Cassius Higgins, elected 1950, East Molesey, Surrey
Trevor Fleming, Ballymena, County Antrim
David Duncan, elected 1966, Paisley, Renfrewshire
Steven Alan Tiesdell, elected 1991, Glasgow
Christopher Brian Barr, elected 1996, London
Richard Harrington, elected 1972, Chichester, West Sussex
Roy Hamilton Hardy, elected 1951, Loughborough, Leics
Stanley George Owen, elected 1943, Bournemouth, Dorset
Philip Yeats Bisset, elected 1950
David Cynddylan Hughes Jenkin, elected 1937, St Albans, Herts
Peter Christian Ditlef-Nielsen, elected 1979, London
George Birnie, elected 1959, Edinburgh
Roland Phillips, elected 1956, Bexhill-On-Sea, East Sussex
George Smith, elected 1951, Maidstone, Kent
Noel Anthony Goss, elected 1951, London
Michael Henry Shepheard, elected 1946, Basingstoke, Hants
Norman Moon Phillips, elected 1948, Carlisle
Donald Frank Armstrong Williamson, elected 1949, Aylesbury
Amanda Agnes Urie Lodge, elected 1987, Ross-On-Wye
Rosemary Carole Lawson Kingsley, elected 1973, London
John Bancroft, Haywards Heath , elected 1951, West Sussex
Maurice William Naunton , elected 1953, Ringwood, Hants
Kenneth Macintyre Saville, elected 1975, Stockport, Cheshire
Richard Wyndham Shaw, Wolverhampton, elected 1958
Hugh James Cochrane , elected 1973, London
Kenneth Cyril Gething , elected 1968, Sutton Coldfield
Thomas Daniels Howcroft, elected 1952, Stockport, Cheshire
David Featherstone Kellett, elected 1959, Morpeth, Northumberland
Chessor Lille Matthew, elected 1936, Dundee
Michael Bernard Hartley, elected 1950, Durban, South Africa
Thomas Bryan Michie, elected 1968, Edinburgh
Alan Thomas Miller, elected 1963, Edenbridge, Kent
Christina Press, elected 1940, Liskeard, Cornwall
Alexander Fyfe Simm, Glenrothes, Fife
Imre Makovecz, international honorary fellow
Basil James Rushton, elected 1961, Hove, East Sussex
Abdul-Razzak Kazi, elected 1964
To inform the RIBA of the death of a member, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with details of next of kin