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Monday, December 1, 2014

Mary Medd

Mary Crowley Medd (1907-2005) was a British architect who was legendary for her school designs. When she was a child, her father was on the Board of Education, so she grew up hearing about school buildings and the education of the whole child.

Medd attended finishing school in Switzerland and then entered the Architectural Association in 1927.  In 1930 she was profoundly impressed by a visit to the Stockholm exhibition, where she found an admiration for Swedish modern art and design.

After completing her studies, she worked briefly for Louis de Soissons, working on a small house with Judith Ledeboer and a house for her parents. Around 1940, she worked with Erno Goldfinger on a prefabricated nursery and a few other projects before being hired by Hertfordshire's charismatic education officer, John Newsom, in 1941. She teamed up with another Hertfordshire architect, David Medd, and they married in 1949.

Medd and her husband moved to the Ministry of Education's architects and building branch, and two years later they initiated a series of exemplary schools, which included St. Crispin's secondary modern at Wokingham, Berkshire.  Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, Mary's main focus was paying exhaustive attention to the needs of the children and the teachers, which gave the Medds an international reputation for tailoring their schools to child-centered education, in spite of the fact that Mary, a lifelong Quaker, was contemptuous of fame.

Mary retired in 1972 to a life of travel and consulting on school planning around the world, as well as continuing to work with David on his projects.


Alban Wood School, Watford

Eveline Lowe Primary, London

Sewell's Orchard, the home Medd designed for her parents

Original interior of Mary Medd's home

Present day interior of Medd's home

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