Jonathan Makepeace on an early photograph of the Miesian home of the James Cubitt & Partners founding partner, in the London suburb of Ham Common, Richmond
One of a pair of small single-storey, three-bedroom houses on the site of an old orchard, 57 Ham Street was architect Stefan Buzás’ own home – built in a Miesian style and highly regarded as an example of modern domestic architecture. The local authority had demanded that the street elevation be brick, but allowed Buzás more freedom of expression for the rest of the building with its large glazed facade and freely planned living space set around a central core of sanitary and heating functions topped by a timber clad loft area.
With the deteriorating political situation in Vienna in 1938 Buzás (1915-2008) had been sent to England, completing his studies at the Architectural Association. He became a founding partner of James Cubitt & Partners in 1948 where, perhaps, his most significant works were the adjoining South Africa Tourist Board and Quantas Airways showrooms. Featuring glass extending down to pavement level these frameless spaces gave a new sophistication to shopping, setting the standard of design for the future. From 1965 there followed a long collaboration with Alan Irvine including interiors for the Queen Elizabeth 2 liner.