Detached house, 1978/9, by Granville Gough as his family home. Brown brick laid in stretcher bond, custom-made double-glazed windows, flat roof, single-storey. Polygonal design.
Reason for Listing
The Polygons, including terraces, encircling path, reflecting pool and eastern boundary wall, constructed in 1978/9 by Granville Gough as his family home, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Architectural quality: it is a good and rare example of a smaller modern house with a strong attention to detail and design focus that sets it apart from other more formulaic and ordinary houses of this date, and which incorporates design influences from Frank Lloyd Wright and Peter Aldington;
* Design interest: it has a highly unusual organic design that grew out of the site and its topography and is composed of a series of inter-linked polygonal shapes;
* Planning: the house's polygonal design maximises natural light and takes full advantage of views of the garden and the neighbouring Sow Brook through the incorporation of large wrap-around windows, light wells, and floor-to-ceiling glazing and glazed patio doors, which merge the exterior with the interior. The interior's flowing series of geometric spaces and fluidity of design also mirrors the flow of Sow Brook alongside the house, with an octagonal lounge forming the main focal point on the axis of the house;
* Design aesthetic: simple materials, such as brick and timber have been elegantly and subtly used, with texture and contrasting materials designed to create interest, and stylistic continuity maintained between the exterior and interior form;
* Level of survival: it is virtually unaltered both externally and internally, retaining its original finishes and the vast majority of original features, including built-in furniture designed by Gough;
* Bespoke design: the interior spaces are specifically designed to be flexible and fulfil the house's role as a family home and as a space for entertaining: glazed sliding doors separate the dining room from the lounge, two of the bedrooms incorporate a sliding partition, and doors and serving hatches open out onto the breakfast and evening terraces (on the east and west sides of the house respectively), as well as between the kitchen and dining room;
* Spatial organisation: the separation of Gough's workspace where he met clients and workmen, from the private family areas is clearly legible internally with hard-wearing and utilitarian floors used in the former spaces.
The Polygons was constructed in 1978/9 to the designs of Granville Gough as his family home. As he was just establishing his architect's business at the time, the house was intended to act as a calling card to attract clients. Gough, who operated as a one-man architect's firm, later went on to produce designs for industrial, commercial and domestic buildings predominantly in Yorkshire and the north west of England, but also in Birmingham.
The site, which originally formed part of the garden of a house further along Dane Bank Road, was purchased for £8000. Previously, Gough had acquired a plot at Locking Stumps, Warrington where he had intended to construct a steel-framed building as his home with a central swimming pool and a sliding roof. However, these plans changed when the more desirable plot at Lymm came up for sale. Granville Gough spent six months designing the house, with the construction (largely undertaken by Gough and his first wife, with specialists brought in as and when required) taking a further twelve months. The designs were whittled down to two options: a mirror box carried on stilts with a central service core and rooms arranged around the outside, which was not chosen because it was felt that it would be lost within the mature trees that occupied some of the site; and the final polygonal design, which grew out of the site, its setting and topography. The total cost of the final build was £63,000, including the cost of the plot.
The house was intended to be a long-term home for the owners and was designed to accommodate any potential health issues: at the time of the design, the architect's back problems raised the possibility that he might require a wheelchair; hence the house is designed on one level with wide doorways throughout. Following its completion the house featured in both Building Design and Ideal Home magazines and has also featured on the television. The original plan drawings are now contained within the V&A archive.
PLAN: The Polygons is composed of a series of inter-linked polygonal shapes lying north-west - south-east on a plot located above, and parallel to, Sow Brook, which flows alongside the eastern side of the house. The house is approached by a short curving drive, which descends down to the main entrance and garage where the house is set on a lower ground level than that of Dane Bank Road. The house's central point is an octagonal lounge, from which a service wing projects off to the southern side and a bedroom wing off to the northern side. The house retains its original grounds, including a York-stone path that wraps around the house and incorporates terraces on each western and eastern side, along with an eastern boundary wall that zig-zags above Sow Brook. A reflecting pool also lies to the west of the house.
EXTERIOR: The Polygons is constructed of load-bearing brickwork and blockwork with reinforced-concrete raft foundations. Self-preserving materials, including anodised aluminium have been used in the building's construction, along with waterproof ply. Black pointing with a square rebate has been used to highlight the brickwork, and running around the entire building is a very deep, black-stained, Bootle Norman plywood beam fascia that jetties outwards at numerous points (including over the paved terraces) to form shade-providing canopies with cedar panelling, lights and ventilators to the undersides. The house's large windows, which include timber fixed-pane windows and anodised aluminium sliding-sash windows set within timber frames, are not load bearing; enabling the structure to remain standing if they are removed. Each window has a sill formed of cant-faced soldier bricks shaped at a 15-degree angle to allow rainwater run-off; these are also used to form a course at the top of the building supporting the fascia. A plain soldier course runs across each elevation at sill level. Many of the windows, and also the lounge's patio doors that access each terrace, wrap around the house's angled corners.
The main entrance is set to the south-eastern end of the building and incorporates a slender canopy that projects forwards at a right angle for some distance in order to wrap around a sycamore tree. The entrance canopy has a fascia in the same style as that to the main house, although not as deep, and a slightly-raised walkway underneath with frost-proof tiles. The entrance itself is recessed and has commercial-type glazed double doors. To the left of the entrance is the garage, which has a vertical-opening, rolling and folding Filuma garage door from the United States; the garage is also accessible internally from the house. The house's roof overhangs the garage and main entrance to provide covered access in bad weather.
INTERIOR: internally the house is little altered and has v-grooved cedar panelled ceilings and bare, textured, Ibstock Bretton Brown Rustic brick walls, which, like the exterior, incorporate two soldier courses. The interior incorporates under-floor and ceiling heating and contains teak doors and Gibbons handles set within simple machined-timber architraves. Some of the furniture was designed by Gough himself.
The frost-proof tiles of the entrance walkway are carried through into the entrance hall, which runs down into the kitchen. The hall is lit by a square light well with a glazed pyramidal roof; two further examples in the same style can be found in the lounge and the rear hall in the bedroom wing.
Off the northern side of the hall is Granville Gough's office, which was designed as a working office where he would meet clients and tradesmen. The office has a utilitarian flooring designed for workmens' boots, a cork display wall, sliding plan drawers and built-in shelving. Opposite the office, across the hallway, is a toilet, which shares the entrance hall's tiled floor, making it suitable for work visitors. The original sanitary ware survives, along with the tiling, which incorporates two bands of narrow, vertical tiles that mirror the soldier courses of the brickwork and which are replicated in the house's two other bathrooms.
The house's pentagonal kitchen contains cherrywood units designed by Gough and has serving hatches through to the neighbouring dining room and also out onto the western terrace for use at parties. The dining room retains its original shagpile carpet, which continues through into the lounge and bedroom wing, and backlit Roset display units designed by Gough, which have a module configuration enabling elements to be added or subtracted as required. The walls are plastered, except for the dividing wall with the kitchen. The dining room flows into a large octagonal lounge located at the centre of the house, which is fully glazed on each west and east side with sliding patio doors opening onto the terraces. Two original light fittings survive and two are later replacements, which replaced Noguchi shades.
The bedroom wing lies off the northern side of the lounge and has a central, angled corridor with bedrooms and bathrooms off to each side and also the northern end. The bedrooms have plastered walls and ceilings and contain original built-in furniture, including mirrored wardrobes, and light fittings. The master bedroom suite has a small lobby area, bedroom and bathroom; both this bathroom and another within the bedroom wing retain their original sanitary ware and tiling. Two of the guest bedrooms are separated by a sliding partition wall, which can be retracted to create a single large bedroom, and is constructed of plastic-laminated fibreboard cladding over a timber frame filled with polystyrene so that it is light to move. One of the bedrooms is now used as a library/study and has a later parquet-effect vinyl floor and shelving, but retains its original mirrored wardrobes.
SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: set to the west of the house is a rectangular reflecting pool that is aligned east-west and is edged in sandstone. A York-stone path wraps around the house and incorporates terraces on each western and eastern side; the eastern path and terrace are bounded by a low brown-brick wall that follows an irregular alignment above Sow Brook and includes further lower sections of walling set in front of the wall's angles, creating raised planting areas.
MAPPING NOTE: The reflecting pool is not depicted on the modern OS map and therefore cannot be accurately mapped for the purposes of this List entry. However, it does form part of the house's listing, along with the other subsidiary features, which have been mapped.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.