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Listed Building
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Statutory Address:

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

South Cambridgeshire (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:
TL 34639 56321



445/0/10017 MAIN STREET 12-JUL-02 (West,off) Meunier House and attached raised terr aces

II Private house. 1964 by John Meunier for himself. Exposed Fletton brick, flat roofs. Single storey. The plan is of two intersecting squares, one higher containing the living, dining and kitchen areas, while the lower one contains the enclosed study and bedrooms; the service core is at the intersection. The two squares are set on a raised brick plinth, also square (40' square), which forms two terraces.

The facades follow a sequence from the completely blank north face to the totally open south face of the higher block. Timber windows, the opening lights three foot square and placed at the same height in both volumes. Full height glazing in the higher spaces. Inside are the same exposed Flettons, except above working and washing surfaces where there are either white faced tiles or mirrors. Buff quarry tile floors; exposed Columbian pine ceilings and built-in cupboards, shelving and fixtures of pine and beech.

Meunier designed this house when he was a Junior Lecturer in the Department of Architecture at Cambridge University, and is his first significant building. It was made possible by a University policy to grant second mortgages to faculty members, which made it possible to build the house when no financial equity was available. It is nevertheless a very austere and cheaply built house, but one that makes a feature of its cheap materials.

Meunier describes that house as 'an English Brutalist version of a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house'. But it is much more geometric and classically proportioned than the work of his contemporaries, and it is this severe logic which makes it interesting. In this it anticipates his subsequent and better-known work with Barry Gasson which culminated in the Burrell Museum, Glasgow.

'I find it both necessary and natural that in our man-made environment we will find an oscillation between Natural and Customary Beauty, between stable classicism and dynamic modernity.

I would hope that you will find that oscillation in the plans of both my house and the Wendon house'

Its simplicity also reflects Meunier's experience of working at Harvard with Serge Chermayeff and Christopher Alexander, and of their book Community and Privacy (1962). It was designed on a proportioning system based on both the nine-inch brick module and a version of Le Corbusier's Modulor. The height achieved using this system and the full-height windows designed using its proportions create a great sense of space for what is a tiny house. Meunier has written that 'beauty should be a novel experience, and this is rarely comfortable. This house is an attempt to achieve some sort of nobility - to create out of space, not a cosy living room, but something that elevates rather than comforts.'

Architectural Review, vol.144, no.858,August 1968, pp.106-7 John Meunier, 'Cultural Responsibility, Design and Design Education: the ordering of the Built Environment', inaugural lecture as Dean of Arizona State University, September 1987. John Meunier, Architect, Arizona State University, 2000


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

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Books and journals
Arizona State University, , John Meunier, Architect, (2000)
Meunier, J, Cultural Responsibility, Design and Design Education: The Ordering of the Built Environment, (1987)
'Architectural Review' in August, (1968)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

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