Architect of the Week: Frederick Gibberd

Sir Frederick Gibberd (1908-84) was one of Britain’s most influential Modern Movement architects, recognised both for his contributions to social housing and post-war town planning, and for his radical designs for a number of notable public and religious buildings.

Born in Coventry in 1908, Gibberd went on to study at the Birmingham School of Architecture alongside F.R.S. Yorke (with whom he would later collaborate on a number of significant publications), under the instruction of renowned Arts and Crafts architect William Bidlake. Gibberd set up a private practice in 1930, winning his first commission for Pullman Court in Streatham at the age of 23 – an acclaimed project that led to commissions for a number of similar schemes, including Park Court in Sydenham, and Southgate’s Ellington Court.

Increasingly recognised as the ‘flat’ architect, Gibberd, along with Yorke, co-wrote the influential publication ‘The Modern Flat’ in 1937. At this time Gibberd also became a member of the Modern Architectural Research Group (MARS) alongside other key figures of twentieth-century modernism including Serge Chermayeff, Wells Coates and Berthold Lubetkin.

Unfit for service during the Second World War, Gibberd was appointed principal of the Architectural Association, ensuring students continued to receive training throughout this period. He also began to extensively study town planning, leading to his appointment in 1947 as planner for the new town of Harlow, Essex – recognised today as one of the most successful schemes of its kind. Gibberd also won commissions for a number of religious buildings, for which he is perhaps best known, including the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (1962-67) with its distinctive ‘crown of thorns’, and the London Central Mosque (1977-78) on the edge of Regent’s Park.

Gibberd retired in 1978, but his practice (established in 1945) still operates today, whilst his own home and much-loved garden in Harlow remain open to the public.

Read a personal account of Sir Frederick Gibberd, written by his grandson Matt Gibberd – Founding Director of The Modern House – here.


Discover more in our Directory of Architects and Designers.