Words Lucy Drane
Photography Elliot Sheppard
With the year waning, we’re feeling wistful. As such, we’re tossing ourselves right back to the very first problem of our publication and to an especially unique home we as soon as went to in Somerset. A little number of homes are more than simply excellent: they end up being apotheosis of a motion, classic of their generation. The hunky brutalism of Peter Womersley’s Valley Spring is one, standing as testimony to the designer’s uneasy experimentation and sustaining genius.
I’m absorbing views and drinking coffee in the dining-room of Valley Spring, a Grade II-listed modernist work of art 2 miles south of Bath, in Somerset. The sky is grey and a veil of mist capes the agrarian scene throughout Horsecombe Vale. My exaltations are warmly humoured by Liz, your house’s owner, who appears acquainted with such an impassioned action from thrilling visitors.
Valley Spring was developed in 1968 by Peter Womersley, thought about, for factors ending up being clear to me, the most skilled British domestic designer of his time. It was Womersley’s last personal task, a commission from his sibling, John, and is the only home of the modern-day duration in Bath.
Utilizing the sloped plot, Womersley lay your house low in the landscape, totally hiding it from the upper arterial roadways of the city. There is a sexy expose on the technique as your house reveals itself, bit by bit, with each coming down curve of the driveway. At the foot of the slope, the whole ensemble is exposed in all its splendor: a series of glass boxes poised in between strong brick columns; brutalist geometric types stepping laterally throughout the valley in a task of architectural structure and balance.
Inside, the open, free-flowing areas articulate the late 1960s zeitgeist, when standard plans were being challenged and versatile, casual living was on the up. The affiliation of spaces follows a fantastic Miesian-like grid set over 4 levels, with 3 distinct flat-roofed structures, each interlinked by an open-tread wood staircase. There is an unassailable impact from the Modernist heavyweights, most significantly Le Corbusier and Frank Lloyd Wright, who had, in turn, been a devoted fan of Womersley’s work.
It’s all a far cry from the vertical plans of Bath’s Georgian equivalents, with their segregated servants’ quarters and hierarchical designs. What’s remarkable, however, is that the tradition-breaking style still holds appeal today. Liz and her household remained in a stereotypical townhouse in the city centre before moving here and it was a liberating shift, she informs me, to go from 4 stone floors stacked on top of each other to this open area, with walls consisted of mainly of glass.
Some modifications have actually been made, though. The initial strategy allocated a little cellular bathroom and kitchen, common of the time, however less open for modern-day living– these spaces were opened out and bigger in a substantial repair 2013. A westerly wing was likewise contributed to the existing self-contained annexe, interlinked by ways of a glass sidewalk to be sensitively incorporated into the bones of the initial structure. A happy pairing of frameless windows and overhanging eaves hark to California’s Case Research study homes, taking a series of yards which combine the within and outdoors areas.
Fastidious in their efforts to confirm Womersley’s initial intent, the present owners redressed the outside walls to a dark shade of grey. They had actually been painted an ivory white by their predecessors, which triggered your house to extend from the landscape. The timber-clad ceilings were brought back and each of the huge panels of glazing were changed for effectiveness.
It’s all worked to put the spotlight back on Womersley, a master in wedding event his structures to their rural settings. There exists an intimate relationship here in between Valley Spring and the valley itself, similar to your house and studio he developed for painter and fabric designer Bernat Klein, slotted into a pocket of the Scottish Borders, and the mid-century masterstroke Farnley Hey, with its amazing Pennine background.
In all of these tasks, Womersley’s worry of style atrophy fired an important drive for his structures to progress; to use something brand-new and initial. Safe to state, he attained that here. The dark anthracite overview of its eaves and umber outside walls might barely being in starker contrast to the honeyed stone of Bath’s centuries-old streets. Your home is a victorious reverse to that. Yet the luster of the structure is that its robust addition to the environments is an unified one. It is a victorious modernist monolith that stresses the Somerset landscape with vibrant structure and sustaining materiality; a real classic.