The Twentieth Century Society

100 Buildings 100 Years

1935: De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea

Type: Entertainment
Architect: Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff
Location: Bexhill on Sea, East Sussex TN40 1DP

It is one of history’s fabulous freaks that a major example of Modern architecture queens it over a minor south coast resort. Germany’s loss was England’s gain when Mendelsohn escaped to London, and Thomas Tait’s bold competition choice led to the first public building this side of the Channel to demonstrate the new architecture with life-enhancing verve. Chermayeff’s interiors, within a welded steel frame by Felix Samuely, gave substance to the vision.

It is luckier still that when the Pavilion had metaphorically got stuck in bedroom slippers and curlers in the 1990s, a local enthusiast, Jill Theis, became a Rother Councillor with a mission to recover its youth, leading to John McAslan’s refurbishment in 2004-5, and its new direction as an arts venue combined with a community facility. There is nothing more uplifting than to spend a day there watching the rain or the sun as it arcs round from Hastings to Beachy Head.

by Alan Powers

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