We’re used to seeing crisp white surfaces as a marker of urbane essentialism—c.f. O.M. Ungers’ Haus 3, or Loos’s Müller House—so it’s a little disorienting to remember that what we talk about as ‘clean’ and ‘modern’ has had quite different connotations in the past. For J.M Gandy (see this profile by Christopher Woodward) in 1805, for example, it was a matter of rustic humility. In his book Designs for Cottages, Cottage Farms, and other Rural Buildings; including Entrance Gates and Lodges (London: John Harding) we find these stark white boxes: windows punched, untrimmed and horizontally oriented; surfaces unornamented; and with minimal overhangs. The images are somewhat surprising, given the sensitivity to materials, light, massing, and detail in his more famous images for John Soane.