Friday, 26 August 2016

Building on past successes

Inspired by the best in architectural design from centuries gone by, one team of architects has revitalised the idea of the traditional country house

Thirty years ago, many architects argued that modernism was the style of the day and age. It is now obvious that, for country houses, this simply is not the case.

house-590-2A simple three-arched gothic screen divides the entrance hall and dining room.

Most people seeking a purpose-designed home prefer a more humane type of architecture, one that evokes memories of buildings that they admire, and is easier to live with. This is why Adam Architecture designs homes to be occupied and enjoyed by their owners, which are also a continuation of the golden age of house design of Edwin Lutyens and, before him, Christopher Wren. While an emphasis on the superlative building skills of the Arts and Crafts movement – with plans of the ‘butterfly’ type, allowing the maximum number of rooms to enjoy both sunlight and views – is also a key feature, historical parallels take us only so far, as the houses designed by the practice could have been built at no other time than our own.

house-590-3Manor Farm in Little Rollright, Oxfordshire, is modelled on early 18thC houses, combining classical and Cotswold vernacular styles

Philosophers throughout the ages have noted that simplicity promotes happiness. The same might be said of tradition. Today’s country houses are still largely built to impress at first sight, with a strong facade and an imposing entrance hall. But when it comes to the rooms where the family of the house spends most of its time – the kitchen and living room and perhaps an associated suite – historical precedent runs out.

house-590-4Queen Anne-inspired East Hoe Manor, near Hambledon in Hampshire

The language of classical architecture is as flexible as the English language in the modern computer age. Palladian models work well for modern life, providing rooms of different shapes and sizes that can be used and modified as the occupants need. Whether Anglo-classical, rural romantic or neoclassical in design, the adaptability of these styles in the contemporary country house accommodates the needs of an age in which emails can be answered in every room and televisions are just as likely to be found in a bathroom or kitchen as in a sitting room.

house-590-5Centre: A room in the Queen Anne inspired East Hoe Manor, Left and Centre: A house at Arvenell, near Kilmacolm in Scotland, inspired by local 17thC gentry houses

 The Country House Ideal: Recent Work By Adam Architecture, by Jeremy Musson, with forewords by Clive Aslet and Calder Loth; photography by Paul Barker (Merrell, £40).

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