One house in
Blythburgh can legitimately claim to represent the modern movement
in twentieth-century architecture: "Isokon" in Dunwich
Road. It was designed in the early 1960s by Jennifer and Colin Jones
for Jennifer's father Jack, and Molly Pritchard.
behind a vertically-slatted wooden fence, it is a simple single-storey,
rectilinear design. A flat roof enables the house to settle into
the landscape, and avoid the interruption of others' views. The
house has a timber frame, clad with Western red cedar, and was built
and partly assembled in Martham Boat Yard before erection on the
site. Inside, one large living space, almost entirely glass-walled,
and divided by a chimney-stack, makes the most of the view towards
the river. A separate pavilion provides additional accommodation.
Behind banks of dug-out earth there is a solar-heated swimming pool,
and a sauna.
(1899-1992) was one of the great champions of 1930s modernism. He
commissioned Wells Coates to build the Lawn Road flats, described
by Pevsner as "giant's work of the 1930s". The flats were"the
heart of iconoclastic Hampstead", where gathered England's
avant-garde. Marcel Breuer and Lazlo Moholy-Nagy, refugees from
the Bauhaus, designed furniture and graphics for Jack Pritchard's
company Isokon (from "Isometric Unit Construction"). Breuer's
"Long Chair" became a twentieth-century classic, and the
modest "Isokon Donkey" still houses many collections of
Penguin books. Jack Pritchard even commissioned an exhibition stand
for Olympia from Le Corbusier.
the most influential art and design school of this century, was
founded by Walter Gropius in Weimar in 1919. Harassed by the Nazis,
Gropius came to England in 1934, where he was met by Jack Pritchard
who provided him with a home and sponsored his partnership with
the architect Maxwell Fry. This led to Gropius's only public building
in Britain before he left for the United States, Impington Village
College in Cambridgeshire.
During the 1939-45
war Jack Pritchard worked for Government Ministries. He visited
the United States, and was impressed by a Gropius/Breuer housing
development that took full advantage of a sloping site to let the
sun in, exploiting its winter value for space heating. He used this
idea in Blythburgh many years later. After the war he worked for
Bratt Colbran, Lebus and GKN, and became the first director of the
Furniture Development Council.
Pritchard" (from his association with the firm Venesta) could
almost have been the model for Osbert Lancaster's Hampstead progressive,
drawn in a twentieth-century functional room in his "Homes,
Sweet Homes". Fiona MacCarthy described him as one of the great
ideologists of 1930s modernism. He left in Blythburgh a house designed
for his retirement, not the heady days of his working career, but
it allied the outcome of design revolutions with a fitness for purpose
and sensitivity for its village site.
Further reading: Jack Pritchard, View from a Long Chair (1984)
Mackley, Blythburgh, January 1995.