Collectors in Cornwall: Creek Vean House, Nordic Fans under the Grass


The home of Su Rogers’s parents hangs over an existing boathouse on a creek, and is both a sailing base and an exhibition space for their art collection. Developed between 1964 and 1966, the final building shows a mature complexity in its blending of references that granted it immediate popularity, being the first house to receive a RIBA award. One of the preliminary versions harboured three slabs under a slope of glass, enhancing the dramatic topography to design what would become a recurring model in Foster’s subsequent work; but the final version abandons the glass cascade to build a fan-shaped plan that opens up to the views of the water, and leans on a top-lit spine that serves as corridor and picture gallery. The house, which is hidden under grass, passes under a torrent of grass-covered steps descending towards the water, and the many references to Aalto are reinforced by the lamps that illuminate the interior through the rooflights; while the late work of Wright and Le Corbusier resonates in the angular theatrical composition of the double-height daytime area or in the stark nature of the slate floors and the exposed concrete blockwork of the walls. And this wealth of sources fuses in an informal building, that sits, exquisite and casual, on the wooded slope...[+]

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