I was really sad to hear this morning of Richard MacCormac’s death. I can now add what I didn’t like to say of his book launch at the Royal Academy a month or so ago that it was obvious then that he was approaching death, so thin he was, but a manifestation of the triumph of the human spirit that he was able to speak with such power and lack of self pity. I hugely admired him: someone who practised at the highest level as a modern architect, but maintained a deep interest in history and ideas, as evident in his Ruskin Library at Lancaster University, an early lottery project, and Blue Boar Court, a combination of graduate housing and a lecture theatre for Trinity College, Cambridge, which might be regarded as post-modern if it was not so obviously deeply thought and felt.
I have just been to the launch of a book that Richard MacCormac (RA) has produced about the house he has lived in in Heneage Street, Spitalfields, and, more importantly, the house next door where Jocasta Innes, his partner for the last three decades, lived. It’s called Two Houses in Spitalfields. She bought no.5, which had been built for a brewer, in the late 1970s. Her daughter, Tabitha, evoked the heroic days of Spitalfields preservation, when their house had few amenities but electric light, Brick Lane had only curry houses, and much of the area was faced by demolition. The neighbours met one another in a nearby pub and Richard’s house could apparently be reached from Jocasta’s via a secret door made out of a fireplace. Jocasta died in April 2013. Her house is now up for sale. The book is a photographic record.