Readers respond to the winner of this year’s AR House Awards
I can find no real sense and sensibility in the public face of Fayland House, David Chipperfield Architects’ modern realisation of the English country house (AR July 2015). This arcaded elevation – with its Silenus-proportioned ‘columns’ – may well have, as Ellis Woodman suggests, a subversive timeless classicism, but I don’t get it. Yes, this may be because I have been ‘conditioned’ by the Five Orders of Architecture – especially as regards column girth, proportion and apparent bearing capacity. But, these columns of antiquity – creations of an anthropomorphic way of humanising the world – be they fat or thin, are never obese. And they always bear something substantial.
My viewpoint has undoubtedly been influenced by Geoffrey Scott’s The Architecture of Humanism, that, ‘We have transcribed ourselves into terms of architecture,’ and that ‘We transcribe architecture into terms of ourselves.’ Furthermore, Scott advocated a return to Western Classical architecture; our true-good-and-beautiful timeless classicism, which in turn metamorphosed into the Modern Movement: Mies van der Rohe’s constructional sensibility, Frank Lloyd Wright’s space and freedom, and Le Corbusier’s subtle and enigmatic language of form.
So, given the fairytale client and genius loci of the Chiltern Hills, is Fayland House a lost opportunity to create a seminal ‘suburban villa sited for view and breeze’ (Marinetti) in the ‘becoming, changing and transformation’ (Bergson) of the Modern Movement – free of ’quiet subversiveness’?