Residential highlights of the century, selected by the Twentieth Century Society
As part of the continuing celebrations to mark its centenary, the Twentieth Century Society has published ‘100 Houses 100 Years’, which showcases highlights of British domestic architecture – one house to mark each year.
Each house is illustrated with a small selection of images and and a brief description. Writers include architects and historians, among whom are society stalwarts Gavin Stamp, Elain Harwood, Catherine Croft, Timothy Brittain-Catlin and Alan Powers.
Some of the houses are well-known, but many will be unfamiliar to the average reader, including rare gems such as Denys Lasdun’s Hill House of 1972 (above), which is grade II*-listed but has never been published in full.
64 Heath Drive, 1934
Francis Skinner and Tecton
Gidea Park, Essex
Designed when Skinner was just 25, the house at Heath Drive was part of the Gidea Park Modern Homes Exhibition promoting architect-designed homes to compete with spec-built products. Influenced by continental modernism – not least by Le Corbusier – it has a reinforced concrete envelope, expressed columns and a screened roof terrace. Its L-shaped plan was intended to enable a row-house development with a continuous street frontage and semi-enclosed gardens.
The Wood House, 1937
Escaping Nazi antagonism towards the Bauhaus, of which he had been director, Walter Gropius spent the years 1934 to 1937 in the UK before moving on again to the United States. He found little work in England, and completed just three buildings, including the Wood House for a left-wing intellectual couple. It has red cedar cladding, a semi-formal porch and an outdoor sleeping terrace reached by an external stair.
High Sunderland, 1958
Near Selkirk, Scottish Borders
Commissioned by a textile manufacturer, High Sunderland is a single-storey flat-roofed pavilion whose facades are enlivened by coloured glass panels. Interiors are arranged in two distinct halves opening onto courtyard terraces. The principal space is a large, open-plan living room which incorporates a study, a library and a spacious sunken seating well.
Eagle Rock House, 1982
Ian Ritchie Architects
Coopers Green, Uckfield, East Sussex
Large panes of glass and a lightweight steel structure allow the building to blend into its backdrop. “The original concept of a bird can be seen not only in the overall plan form and volumes of the building but in the way it is camouflaged in its woodland setting”, says writer Clare Price. The bird metaphor extends to external blinds like feathers which are ruffled by the breeze.
Greenbank House, 1983
This is the second house that Gowan built for furniture designer Chaim Schreiber – the first (and better-known) is near Hampstead Heath and was completed in 1964. Its “homely shape is subverted by the big circular porthole punched through a triangular gable that is boldly cantilevered out over the terrace”, writes Susannah Charlton. Gowan considered its use of pilotis to support a pitched roof to be a post-modernist subversion of Le Corbusier.
Wadhurst Park, 1986
Wadhurst, East Sussex
Commissioned by Tetra Pak owner Hans Rausing, Wadhurst Park was built alongside the ruined conservatory of a Victorian house and “had to look established and not stupidly novel, rather solid, cultured and proper, yet original”, recalled architect John Outram. It has an H-shaped plan with a central saloon and an enfilade of rooms overlooking parkland. A steel frame is clad in brick and travertine, with piers of Outram’s ‘blitzcrete’ concrete.
‘100 Houses, 100 Years’
ed.Susannah Charlton and Elain Harwood
Batsford, 208pp, £25