Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Foxes Dale is a terrace of three three-storey houses designed by Eric Lyons for Span, and built in 1957.
Reason for Listing
* Architectural interest: the houses are well-preserved examples of Lyons' innovative and evolved modern terraced house. Their unusual ground-floor layout and good quality integrated fixtures and finishes make them particularly strong examples.
* Historic interest: as a terrace, the houses reflect a significant element of the important body of work produced by Span; an influential company which dominated the story of high quality private sector housing design in post-war period.
* Group interest: the houses benefit from their close proximity to other Span developments: The Hall and Hallgate (listed Grade II), the architecture and landscaping of which contribute to the setting of these three houses.
Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Foxes Dale were built by Span Developments Ltd in 1957; the terrace was one of a number of developments undertaken by Span in the Blackheath area in the mid to late 1950s.
Formed in the mid 1950s, Span set out to show that architect-designed houses could be produced to sell at competitive prices, whilst allowing the developer to make the necessary profits to make such developments viable. Eric Lyons and Geoffrey Townsend were architects who had met whilst studying at the Regent Street Polytechnic, London; both shared a dissatisfaction with the monotony of speculative housing developments, and a commitment to contemporary design. The men had worked together since before World War II, however because of the difficulty of finding a developer willing to take on their ideas, and because an architect could not also act as a developer, Townsend resigned his membership of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1953, and took on the role of developer, forming Span Developments Ltd. Lyons formed his own independent architectural practice, acting as Span's architect. Through his work for Span, Lyons showed that high densities could be achieved in low-rise developments without sacrificing a strong public realm and landscape setting. Part of the way in which he achieved this, was by bringing the terraced house back into main-stream development as a building form. His gentle, humanized, modernism, and the importance he placed on landscape setting and layout, produced the defining characteristics of Span developments.
No. 2 Foxes Dale was chosen as House and Garden Magazine's 'House of Ideas 1957', and featured in their June and July editions. Also furnished by the magazine, the house served as the show home for the terrace, and the further 16 houses that were intended to be built to the same design. No. 2 had electric heating, No. 4 had gas heating, and No. 6 had solid fuel heating; any one of these three options was open to purchasers of houses in the proposed development. However, perhaps due to the relatively large size of the houses, they proved hard to sell and the rest of the development was never built.
MATERIALS: As with many Span schemes, the houses have a brick cross-wall construction, spanned with reinforced concrete beams, which carry the floor and roof joists. The front and rear elevations are of Thermalite blocks, clad in horizontal timber ship-lap boarding (replaced with uPCV boarding to the rear), and coloured asbestos sheets at ground floor. The windows are timber-framed.
PLAN: Nos. 2, 4 and 6 Foxes Dale have a more spatially complex plan than most Span houses. At ground floor the houses have the entrance lobby and kitchen to the front, with a dining area and spiral stair behind. The dining area leads back into a single-storey flat-roofed living room and study, which look into the garden to the rear, and form an L-shape around an internal courtyard. On the first floor is a bedroom with connecting dressing room (this has been opened out into a single room at No. 4), and a bathroom. The dressing room leads out onto a sun terrace above the living room. On the second floor there are a further two bedrooms and another bathroom.
A single-storey extension has been added at the rear of No. 2.
EXTERIOR: The houses are set back from the road behind paved front gardens, which are separated from the pavement by yellow brick walls and white gates. The front elevation of each house is punctuated to either side by the exposed ends of the yellow brick cross walls. The front door is to the right of each elevation, recessed into an open porch; a service door to the left gives access directly into the kitchen. The remainder of the ground floor elevation is composed of opening and fixed lights, and coloured asbestos panels: turquoise at No. 2, red at No. 4, and olive green at No. 6 (colours which can be chosen by owners from a limited palette). At first floor is a large full-height picture window, and at second floor is a near continuous band of glazing.
To the rear the first and second floor windows are arranged in vertical strips; at ground floor the rear elevation is predominantly glazed, with fixed and opening lights in timber frames. To the front and rear the buildings have a shared palette of white, pale blue/grey, and mid grey; this colour scheme is believed to be original to the terrace.
INTERIOR: The interiors are largely open-plan at ground floor, arranged around an internal courtyard with glazed walls that gives light into the deep foot-print. The open-tread spiral stair, with hardwood treads and simple curved metal balustrades, takes up little floor space, allowing maximum use of the smaller first and second floors which are conventionally arranged off a small landing. Doors and windows are original (although some of the door and window furniture has been replaced), and have simple unmoulded sections.
Original fixtures and fittings of note which survive at Nos. 4 and 6 include the ground floor muhuhu wood-block floor, and the stained pine wall cladding and black and white striped tiled floor of the entrance lobby. Both houses retain an original built-in dresser between the kitchen and dining room and fitted cupboards in the first floor dressing doom. No. 4 retains the original folding door which divides the study from the living room, and No. 6 retains some original study shelving, and several original kitchen units. No. 2 was not inspected internally, but it is understood also to be relatively little altered. This house originally had a pergola-like structure over the first floor sun terrace, however this does not survive.
Source: English Heritage
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.