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John Winter - Obituary

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John Winter, who died in November aged 82, was a hugely influential British architect whose work influenced generations of architects and designers. Jonathan Ellis-Miller worked for John between 1984 and 1991, and regarded him not only as a great teacher and colleague, but also a terrific mentor whose support led him to establish EllisMiller.

John studied at the Architectural Association and worked for Erno Goldfinger after his national service. He continued his studies at Yale under Louis Kahn, and after graduating travelled to San Francisco where he worked alongside Charles and Ray Eames. On returning to London he began his one projects, notably his own self-build house in Regents Park built largely from recycled materials. His second house, built next to Highgate Cemetery in 1967, was the first house in the UK to be constructed from Corten steel and immediately became an architectural icon.

John’s first major commission was in 1972 for Morley College, where he saw off competition from a young Norman Foster. His work was inspired by industrial buildings, and he remained fascinated by materials and how things were made. As a tutor his list of students reads as a roll-call of major British architects and includes Jeremy Dixon, Edward Jones, Michael Hopkins and Nick Grimshaw. His career was not without its frustrations: commissions to work on Chatham Historic Dockyard and Portsmouth Historic Naval Base were undermined and ultimately thwarted by the Prince of Wales.

Later in his career John dedicated his time to the conservation of interwar modernist buildings including Highpoint by the Tecton Group. He served with distinction as a member of the Royal Fine Art Commission.

John was a great friend as well as a mentor to us at EllisMiller, and we will miss him enormously.

13 November 2012