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Date Listed: 30 October 2003
Building ID: 1419211
OS Grid Reference: TQ0842301523
OS Grid Coordinates: 508423, 101523
Latitude/Longitude: 50.8031, -0.4627
Private House. 1936 by Wells Coates, builders E and L Berg. Steel frame, clad in steel sheeting, on concrete foundations and with plaster wall finishes. Flat roofs. Near-diamond shaped plan of two storeys and roof-top room, the upper floor set behind balconies - with curved prow and flanking single-storey wings facing south across the sea. Entrance on north side facing the road has two storey wing. Flat roofs accessed from small room or lobby which incorporates stack. International modern style. Windows replaced within original surrounds, save where concealed behind later screens to balcony. Balcony supported on narrow columns. Interior never had features of special interest.
This is a rare example of a Sunspan House, and forms a strong group with Sea Lane House, the modern movement house by Yorke and Breuer already listed.
Wells Coates was 'the father-figure of the English modern movement' (Cohn), and one of the first architects to building a pure modern style. His engineering background led him to become the first British modernism to exploit the possibilities of prefabrication, when he designed the Sunspan House as a kit to be assembled by builders. The idea of prefabrication and easy-assembly was one of the important tenets of modernism: the idea of putting an architect-designed house within as easy reach of the population as a motor car. The design developed out of the Isotype studies made as part of his design of the Lawn Road flats (grade I) in Camden, London. The critic Philip Morton Shand, writing in the Architects' Journal, considered the Sunspan House 'perhaps the first serious English contribution to domestic planning forms since that famous discovery of the "free, open planning " of the English country house took the Continent by storm at the beginning of this century.' However, very few examples were built, and this survivor remains important, despite its alteration, and additionally has strong group value with its modern neighbour.
Architects' Journal, 26 April 1934
Sherban Cantacuzino, Wells Coates, A Monograph, London, Gordon Fraser, 1978.
This text is a legacy record and has not been updated since the building was originally listed. Details of the building may have changed in the intervening time. You should not rely on this listing as an accurate description of the building.
Listed building text is © Crown Copyright. Reproduced under licence.