Olivia Munk in Harvard Magazine:
This past Tuesday, a crowd gathered at Wimbledon House, the home that esteemed British architect Richard Rogers built for his parents in Wimbledon, London, to celebrate the inauguration of the Richard Rogers Fellowship in partnership with Harvard’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). In 2015, Rogers (formally Baron Rogers of Riverside) donated the home to the GSD through his charitable organization, the Richard Rogers Charitable Settlement, and this past fall, the GSD solicited the first applications for the fellowship. Beginning this spring, fellows will live in the house for three months and receive $10,000 to pursue their projects. Six fellows, hailing from around the world, were selected for the spring, summer, and fall seasons. Their projects range widely, from investigating London’s social housing, to the European migrant crisis, to urban food economies, and art and design as means for social harmony. The GSD searched for fellows who had experience and practice, but also wanted “people from all sorts of fields,” and a diversity among its candidates, said GSD dean Mohsen Mostafavi. The aim of the fellowship, he said in an interview, is to bring together research and design, as well as new ways of thinking and practice. The GSD also sought candidates eager to use London as a resource, both as a cityscape and for its local expertise, including consultants in fields like design, architecture, and structural engineering. Successful research proposals sought to use design and technology to enhance quality of life.
The GSD hopes to use the house in London and the international nature of the fellowship to enable Harvard to contribute to and affect the lives of people far beyond the boundaries of Cambridge. Besides housing fellows (two every three months, including one couple from Mexico City this summer), Mostafavi hopes the building will become a center for debate and discussion for both Harvard alumni and a wider audience. One of the first talks in the house, to be set up “salon” style, will pertain to food and the city—issues such as waste, distribution, and how food is prepared. Larger-scale events supported by the fellowship will take place in venues around the city. Events at Wimbledon House and in London, Mostafavi said, will “deal with topics that have importance and relevance” to the broader London community.
Much like the fellowship, Wimbledon House, built between 1969 and 1970, is one of a kind. Rogers described the design as a “transparent tube with solid boundary walls.” The property consists of two structures, separated by a courtyard.