This section is from the book "Modern Buildings, Their Planning, Construction And Equipment Vol1", by G. A. T. Middleton. Also available from Amazon: Modern Buildings.
Except with regard to the site, the problem presented by "Broadmead" on the Norfolk Broads, for which two distinct schemes are illustrated in Figs. 43 and 44, was of a very similar character. The house was to be on rising ground facing south, and having extensive views to the south and west, while, under the first instructions received, it was to be extremely plain in character, and contain three sitting-rooms, a large hall, kitchens, and six bedrooms. It was to be used principally as a summer residence.
Thus the first scheme (Fig. 43) shows an outer hall, from which both library and drawing-room are entered, itself well lit and with a fireplace, all designed to give the idea of hospitable welcome, while an inner hall is reached through a glazed screen. From this the kitchen and dining-room are reached, easily accessible one to the other, while light is obtained from a tall staircase window shown on the first-floor plan. For the sake of the views and the sunlight the plan is arranged in receding steps, and a good deal more advantage of this might possibly have been taken than was done, especially in the library and dining-room. Both of these rooms, as it is, are difficult to treat internally with satisfaction, while rearrangement of the fireplaces and windows might have made them much more pleasant and comfortable too.
Fig. 43. First Floor Plan.
The first floor is perhaps better, though there is a certain amount of space wasted in the long passage, which is not very well lit; but on both floors the w.c.'s are well cut off from the main building, and are nearly over one another. Every bedroom, it will be noticed, has a fixed lavatory basin for hot and cold water, the desire being to work the house with as few servants as possible, and not to have much movable furniture in it.
Had it been built, further attention would doubtless have been paid to planning details, and it would have proved comfortable to live in, though extremely commonplace externally; but it is illustrated here as a preliminary sketch, to show how schemes may develop from first ideas.
Consultation with the owner, however, showed that it would be preferable to increase the size of sitting-rooms, particularly the drawing-room, and to amalgamate the inner and outer halls, while it was thought that quite a small scullery would suffice, and that a large pantry would be more useful than a small storeroom. A piece of tracing paper was then put over the plan of the first scheme, and the second scheme (Fig. 44) was evolved from it. This has a rectangular outline, the sunlight and views being obtained, by rearrangement of the rooms, in a much more simple manner. The hall is still spacious, but the staircase rises directly out of it, and underneath the stairs, well screened, is a lavatory and w.c. Service from kitchen to dining-room is even easier than before, and all the rooms are in themselves more comfortably arranged and more capable of satisfactory decoration. The angle fireplace in the dining-room is intentional, that nobody need have his back directly to the fire at meal times, and a side light is in every case given for reading by when sitting in front of the fire.
Side light, too, is secured to the kitchen range.
A low additional piece contains the larder, with its window to the north, coals, a pumproom over the well, and the servants' w.c. and back entry.
The rectangular general outline of the plan is even more evident on the first floor, where the large linen-room of the previous scheme is sacrificed but much better bedrooms are provided, in shape particularly, and very little space is lost in landings.
Two more bedrooms are also obtained as attics in the roof, which is steep.
Externally the great simplicity is broken by bays and by a large dormer containing the staircase, which would also serve to screen the necessary pipes from the bathroom and the outlet ventilator to the drainage system - always difficult features to deal with when the w.c.'s or baths are planned in the front of a building. Buttresses, too, were introduced at the angles to resist the thrusts from the hip rafters, and the whole result is to obtain a more interesting front on this simple plan than was possible with the original, and apparently more elaborate, scheme.
Messrs. Parker & Unwin's house at Minehead, shown in Fig. 45, is an example of successful treatment under extremely difficult conditions of aspect and view. A steep hill rose to the south and west, shutting out all view in that direction, and even throwing shadow over the site after an early hour in the afternoon, while there was an extensive and beautiful prospect to the northeast, and the roadway was on the north. Good views of the site were obtainable from the east and northeast only. Stables formed part of the scheme.
For the house itself an L-shaped plan was adopted, with all the sitting-rooms in the east wing, and the kitchens on the south, while yards and a pergola (or space arranged for climbing plants) on the west and the group of stables on the north-west closed in on three sides a small formal garden, a covered way round which enabled a carriage standing near the harness-room to be reached from the front door entirely under shelter.
A little study of the plan will show how advantage has been taken, not only of the natural prospects, but also of those artificially created by the formal garden, covered way, and pergola, extremely pleasant outlooks being given to every room, including the kitchen, which is in regular occupation. Doubtless many people would prefer that the dining-room and living room should be more definitely separated from one another and from the hall, the inconvenience of having the only staircase of a gentleman's house in view of the reception-rooms being great; but the gain in appearance is considerable, vistas, otherwise unobtainable, being opened up. Similarly the arrangement on the upper floor, by which bedroom No. 1 is only to be reached through a dressingroom and across a gallery from which both the staircase and living room are visible, might be extremely objectionable. Even where it is needed by exceptional circumstances, such an arrangement is rarely permissible unless easy means of alteration are provided.
Section Th E-F.
Section The A.B.C.D
Bed Room Plan.
First Floor Plan.
Fig. 45. Ground Plan.
Bedrooms Nos. 3 and 4 would form an isolation wing in case of sickness, by hanging a curtain where the dotted line is shown.
The house which the same architects designed for Mr. Ashworth at Haslemere (see Plate V.) carries the idea of a courtyard still further, it being there entirely enclosed and surrounded both on ground and first floor by a well-lighted corridor from which all the rooms have access. This system of planning, common enough on the Continent, is rare in England, and results, unless the whole of one side of the court be open on the ground floor, in stagnant air collecting in the corners; while a good deal of trouble has to be taken to admit sufficient sunlight to the courtyard for our climate.
The exposure of the staircase to the hall - which is so planned as to be really a sitting-room - would probably be less objectionable in this case than in some others, as a secondary staircase is provided which could be used by servants and children; but unquestionably both the stairs and the balcony would be beautiful features. Pleasing vistas are arranged across the court in several directions, and internal communication is naturally easy with such a plan, which is perhaps best suited for a bleak situation.
The coloured illustration, reduced from a drawing of considerable size, is shown to indicate successful colour treatment of what, though prepared in the first place as sketches to lay before a client, are perfectly capable of being used as working drawings. There is much use made of white paper and simple washes, effect being added by a little clever use of the brush.