Grade II listing for 1956 Watford family home
Alison and Peter Smithson’s Sugden House in Watford was this week granted a grade II listing by the architecture minister John Penrose.
The house, built in 1956 for Derek and Jean Sugden, was recognised for the “visionary aesthetic of the Smithsons with the indelible stamp of their clients”.
“The superficial simplicity of the exterior treatment belies the subtle nuances of the design, expressed particularly in the form and arrangement of the windows,” added the report.
Sugden, a founding partner of Arup Associates, gave the Smithsons a brief for “a simple house, an ordinary house, but that this should not exclude it from being a radical house”.
The first design by Alison Smithson was rejected by the Sudgens because of its butterfly roof, and the couple eventually accepted a revised design by Peter Smithson with a gabled roof and reverse plan. Alison Smithson designed much of the interiors, while the garden was the work of Jean Sugden.
The decision to list the house was praised by a number of architects.
Tony Fretton said: “It takes the vernacular house-builder modernism of its time and explores communicative imagery and comfort while in a finely judged way making the house an art work.”
“A loving interpretation of the arts and craft house with 50s builders details, so witty and wonderful it makes me laugh,” said Peter St John. “The Smithsons were unique in Britain at that time for their interest in style and language, prefiguring postmodernism by 20 years.”
Jonathan Sergison added that it was “utterly appropriate that such a seminal English house is protected through the listing process”.
Justin Webber, conservation officer at Watford Borough Council, said: “We applied for Sugden House to be listed two years ago and were happy to receive the positive outcome this week.”
13 July 2012
3 March 2011
BD Reviews Secondary Education June 2010