I'll admit, I'd never heard of the 'temple' houses before coming across this property, which is being marketed by The Modern House. Tucked off a country road that runs through the Suffolk village of Rendham, this property was designed by the architect John Penn in 1966, and it caught my eye for its striking mix of mid-century architecture with an interior that seamlessly combines mid-century and contemporary design. Reading a little further though, this also turned out to be a really interesting and rare property. This is one of a celebrated group of nine Suffolk houses that are referred to as the ‘temple’ houses due to the classical symmetry of their planning, combined with the fact that the buildings are raised slightly off the ground on a platform.

Penn is hailed as being one of Britain’s greatest Modern architects, although his contribution to British architecture has only been fully appreciated in recent years. He was greatly influenced by his time spent working in California with architect Richard Neutra, as reflected here in the light-filled living spaces with entire walls of glass. When Penn died in 2007, a number of obituaries were published paying tribute to his work and influence. Writing in The Guardian in March 2007, Richard Gray referred to Penn’s “remarkable collection of… important modernist houses built in east Suffolk… (that) still appear uncompromisingly modern, although now well over 40 years old.” Penn’s first UK house was designed for his mother in 1962, and this led to a number of local commissions that in turn led to the collection of ‘temple’ houses. This house sits on a 0.4 acre site that was formerly an orchard, so the garden is filled with mature pear, plum, cherry, apple and walnut trees, with views out over the neighbouring meadows.

The house as it looked in the 1960s.

And today, 50 years on.

The house has been extensively refurbished over recent years, and notably the owners have approached this task with a focus on retaining the building’s original forms and features wherever possible. I can’t resist the combination of tiled floors and timber panelled ceilings seen here, and there’s a great sense of flow, both between the internal spaces and in the way the house connects outside to the garden. The furnishings reflect the character and aesthetic of the building, creating harmony between the architecture and the interior.

A “remarkable collection of… important modernist houses built in east Suffolk… (that) still appear uncompromisingly modern, although now well over 40 years old” ~ Richard Gray, 2007, The Guardian


This property is being marketed by The Modern House. For more details, see the listing: Follow The Modern House on Twitter: Follow The Modern House on Instagram:

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