Seminal early Ted Cullinan House threatened with demolition
Ted Cullinan designed a house for his uncle Mervyn Horder in Hampshire in 1958; he built it on a lush crease in the landscape where a steeply wooded bank joins the grassy valley floor. Distinguished academic Jonathan Hale , who is the author of the forthcoming monograph ‘Ends, Middles, Beginnings’* on forty years of Edward Cullinan Architects ‘ work, writes:
‘This building is easily the most radical of Ted Cullinan’s early houses. As a manifesto statement it bears comparison with Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House – exploring new territory in passive solar design, self-build ‘bricolage’ and an almost deconstructivist formal language of tilted and twisted planes. The design is ordered by a rigorous plan diagram of ‘served and servant’ spaces, as well as a picturesque sensibility towards the placing of objects in the landscape: a classic and idiosyncratically English version of the glass-box-in-the-woods.’
We consider that this small house is of huge value especially as the only similar house of that period, the Marvin House in California was demolished five years ago. Like any building, the house needs maintenance but, after a brief visit last year, Ted Cullinan reports that:
‘I did not see any sign of movement or cracking and the house is substantially as I built it. I do not believe that any major element would need replacing although the over-sailing glass to the porches should be reinstated. The house needs painting and new kitchen fittings.’
The Twentieth Century Society submitted an application for spot-listing in January but English Heritage say that they will not recommend the building for spot listing. English Heritage were under the impression that other Cullinan houses had been listed but to date not one has been and, having declined to list the Horder House in 2001, they have no plans to change their mind.
The present owners of the house have obtained a planning permission to allow demolition and the house is for sale for £850,000, which clearly reflects the value of the large lush site; not surprisingly the estate agents report that the house is ‘incidental….a glorified shed’. We understand that one offer has recently fallen through, so emergency action is essential.
The Twentieth Century Society writes
‘The Twentieth Century Society considers the building an important and innovative early work by Ted Cullinan . The society is convinced that the house could be retained if acquired by a sympathetic owner. The loss of this building would be very much regretted by the society and we believe it merits listing.’
If you think that this house matters, please contact Delcia Keate (delcia.keate(at)english-heritage.org.uk) and save this house by having it spot-listed.
Twentieth Century Society:
Cordula Zeidler (cordula.zeidler(at)c20society.org.uk) telephone 020 7250 3857
* ‘Ends Middles Beginnings’ will be published by Black Dog Publishing in July 2005.
For further information and images please contact: Cordula Zeidler, Caseworker, The Twentieth Century Society, tel: 020 7250 3857, firstname.lastname@example.org
About The Twentieth Century Society
The Twentieth Century Society is a membership organisation which campaigns for the conservation of the best C20th architecture. It was founded in 1976 as the Thirties Society and is now recognised by government and has a statutory role in the planning process. For more details, see our website, www.c20society.org.uk.