Wednesday, May 07, 2008
Kevin McCloud, grand panjandrum of Grand Designs, blames himself. His progamme has encouraged a plethora of white-rendered boxy houses with punctured projections and a spot of cladding. Nowadays, it seems, anyone building aspirationally from scratch, opts for moderne, usually with 'eco' flourishes. The results can be quite impressive, especially from the outside, but it seems an odd way to build, at least in the countryside, and, with those vast expanses of uninflected glass and wide open interior spaces, these seldom look like houses one could comfortably live in. Small windows, separate rooms, plenty of furniture (especially bookcases, seldom in evidence in Grand Designs houses) and a bit of lived-in clutter are what we need to feel at home - especially in the country, where open-plan living behind vast windows is just asking for trouble from nosey neighbours and the local weirdos and roughnecks, or am I being paranoid? Aren't the nostalgic English supposed to be fatally in thrall to debased versions of the Arts & Crafts cottage? Jonathan Meades has lambasted English taste more than once on that score, and he's right, to judge by the ghastly stuff the big developers routinely put up. And yet here are all these white boxes - pure modernism, little changed in 70 or 80 years, once again the style of choice for the ambitious self-builder. Even in gnarled old nostalgic old England, where modernism is supposed never to have taken root. It seems very odd.
Posted by Nige at 9:47 am