John Pantlin was a skilled photographer, but today he is relatively unknown. Curator Valeria Carullo looks at one of the images included in a new exhibition about his work…

Timber house on stilts

Image (enlarge): Timber house on stilts, Brentwood, Essex, 1953.
Photographer: John Pantlin
© RIBA Library Photographs Collection
Image from RIBApix

This ‘house on stilts’ was in fact designed as a caravan in 1952 by architect David Jenkin when his client was refused the licence to build a house on the land he bought at Brentwood. The timber weatherboard construction, designed in collaboration with Ove Arup & Partners, was supported by a steel frame made of Z-section purlins and tripods attached to wheels. The experimental nature of the house, the upward-looking camera angle and the children on the balcony pointing into the distance all combine in this photograph by John Pantlin to convey a sense of optimism in the future and in modern architecture, typical of post-war British architectural culture.

The ‘John Pantlin: photographing the mid-century home‘ exhibition is on display at the Geffrye Museum until the 29 June 2014. Entry is free.

Article by Valeria Carullo
Curator, Robert Elwall Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library, RIBA


About Wilson Yau
I work for the British Architectural Library at the RIBA as part of a team to share news, images and information online about the activities of the Library and the fascinating items we have in our architectural collections – it contains over four million items, so there's plenty to see! If you’re curious about what we do at the Library and with the collections, or want to discover the latest about our education programmes, public events and exhibitions at the RIBA, please visit

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