In autumn 1934 Walter Gropius was introduced to Henry Morris, Cambridgeshire Secretary for Education and creator of the Village Colleges, by furniture designer Jack Pritchard. Together they shared an optimistic faith that good building and aesthetic surroundings could assist humane living and social reconstruction.
Jack Pritchard had commissioned and managed the newly opened Lawn Road flats in Hampstead. The flats, designed by Wels Coates, were a stunning advertisement for the Modernist Movement, home to a bevy of progressive artists, and a haven for émigrés fleeing the fascist powers of Europe. Pritchard, along with architect Maxwell Fry, had arranged for Gropius’ flight to England. Pritchard, who popularised Marcel Breuer’s furniture designs through his Isokon Furniture Company, knew Morris from his Cambridge undergraduate days – they belonged to a discussion group called the ‘Heretics’. In November 1934, Gropius visited Morris in Cambridge. Morris had already converted to Modernism, partly under the influence of Clare College don, Manny Forbes.
With the encouragement of Jack Pritchard, Morris was resolved to secure a non-local authority architect to design the new Village College at Impington. Pritchard brought together a body of 48 subscribers who made donations to cover the £1200 architect fee. The subscribers, largely associated with the Lawn Road Flats, ensured that Gropius had commissioned to prepare the designs for Impington Village College in summer 1936.