There is a lot to love about architecture in the UK. We’re going to take a look in further depth.
England’s New Rural Mansions
There is one thing that architects will have undoubtedly noticed in the UK, especially in the Sussex area, and this is the appearance of rural mansions. Whether England’s new mansions are adorning the countryside with magnificent architecture or spoiling our natural landscape is a well-debated topic at the moment.
The appearance of these mansions has occurred as a result of little changes in the laws that have clearly not gone unnoticed. Arguably, planning approval for an immense country mansion in Warwickshire is what has largely brought this debate into question. The classical manner was designed by one of the Prince of Wales’s favourite architects, Robert Adam. Developers had reassured that the project involved the creation of an orchard, ponds, native wildflower meadows, and new woodland. Yet, architectural design is subjective, and there are those that have moved forward from these classical designs and deem the mansions to be irrelevant today, amongst other hasher analyses.
This is not a new area of discussion. In 2004 the Planning Policy Statement 7 was refined to ensure that new country houses reflected the contemporary architecture of the highest standard, boasting innovative design quality. This amendment came about because an abundance of familiar historic architectural styles cropped up after the policy had been introduced in 1997. Many specialist architects feel that the new rural mansions that are appearing nowadays are merely a reoccurrence of what has already gone before and thus they don’t present anything innovative and genuinely exceptional.
So, why now? Why are we seeing the reappearance of rural mansions in a style of architectural design we are used to? As mentioned, it has a lot to do with changes in legislation that have occurred over the past few years. Reputable professionals like Ian Abrams Architect Limited will stay up-to-date with all of the latest rules and regulations. In fact, it could be something as simple as the change of one word from ‘and’ to ‘or’ that has made all of the difference. Greg Clark, the planning minister, made the tiniest adjustment in the 55th paragraph of the planning guidelines. Now, country houses can be designed so long as they are innovative or outstanding. They no longer need to be both, which is why we are seeing a repetition in design. A good thing or a bad thing? We’ll let you decide.
Inspiration From Charles Rennie Mackintosh
The Royal Institute of British Architects puts on displays regularly, and prior to the lockdown there was an exhibition that was devoted to the architectural design and style of Scottish architect, artist, and designer, Charles Rennie Mackintosh.
The work of Charles Mackintosh is celebrated worldwide and he is arguably one of the leading commercial architects for the late 19th and early 20th century. In fact, some would say that his popularity has been detrimental to his reputation. From tea towels to tapestries, his trademark motifs can be found everywhere, whilst his name alludes to slatted high-back chairs and swirling stained-glass roses.
You would be forgiven for expecting the exhibition at the Royal Institute of British Architects to have simply been a regurgitation of everything we already associate with the famous architect. But that’s not the case. In fact, people got to witness Mackintosh’s raw talent, with the three-room exhibition displaying original drawings of his buildings alone. It was the first substantial exhibition that was devoted to his architecture. It featured more than 60 original drawings and watercolours, as well as portraits, films, and models.
The diversity of drawings plays testament to the architect’s natural talent. His entry for the 1901 Liverpool Cathedral Competition is perhaps the greatest example of this. The committee’s request was for Gothic, and Mackintosh took this brief and come up with a magnificent creation, which features richly sculpted battlements and windows draped with intertwining art nouveau tracery.
People even got to see Mackintosh’s design for his ideal house. The house was never built, but the drawing provides an intriguing look into what Mackintosh and Macdonald may have been envisioning their home to look like. The design features huge chimneys emerging from lines of cubic volumes. The steeply angled walls and curved profiles are reminiscent of North African mud buildings.
Aside from this, other notable drawings included his original design for the Glasgow School of Art, The Hill House, Scotland Street School, and the Glasgow Herald Building.
*this is a collaborative post*