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The Red House

World Architecture

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The Red House

Bexley Heath England
Designed for William Morris in 1859 by his friend and coworker Philip Webb, the Red House in the London suburb of Bexley Heath has been called a cornerstone in the history of English domestic architecture. Much more than that, although in one sense a piece of eclectic architecture, it was a milestone in the way that architects designed houses, making the house to fit the occupant, rather than (as had been the case) forcing the occupants to fit the house: the earliest glimpse of functionally constrained design. Early in the twentieth century the German critic Hermann Muthesius recognized it as the first house to be conceived as a whole inside and out, the very first example in the history of the modern house. At that moment, the ideas behind it were taken up and developed by the American architect Frank Lloyd Wright and fed back into the European Modern Movement. The now-famous English social reformer, designer, novelist, and poet William Morris (1834 1896) originally intended to become a Church of England priest. While at university he decided to devote himself to art. He then worked briefly for the Gothic Revival architect G. E. Street, but influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters Edward Burne-Jones and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, soon turned, also briefly, to painting. In 1857 he met Jane Burden, one of Rossettis models, and two years later they were married in Oxford. Morris was financially independent his annual income of


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