Our enforced preoccupation with the planning regime and finding an architect who could get us through the process was only one part of the story at this juncture however. We also did a lot of work on the history of the property and the period out of which it had emerged.
One could say that it was one of the result of the modernist regime in place at the Cathedral at the time who seemingly sponsored a lot of modern art to combat the greyness of those emergent years from the second world war. The following pages contain a presentation of the main ideas we had that reinforced the architectural concept both of the current and the historic teams.
Restoring the 1950s extension
This is the view of the original Powell and Moya domestic piece in Chichester found on p21 of the Ken Powell book. This was our first objective, to restore it, keeping as many of the original features as possible – particularly the woodwork, glazing and bakelite door handles.
The 1950s extension restored.
Building a new extension
Secondly, we aimed to extend the property with a second extension, in line with an original 1953 drawing and accompanying Phase Two letter by Sir Philip Powell, which we had discovered in the former owner’s personal papers.
Restoring a piece of internal decoration
Serendipitously also we had managed to identify the origin of the images in the mural shown on p22 of Ken Powell’s book which was put up by Powell’s sister in the now lost no 2 Mount Lane, since our new interior would look somewhat similar.
Assisted by the Italic Sculpture curator at the British Museum, we managed to secure the original images from EA Sallis Benney’s (Principal of Brighton School of Art) copy of the 1941 publication from which the originals were taken, but digitally reproduced this time. The restored installation is pictured above, but reversed from the original since our corridor is right-handed.
Siting the property in a modernist landscape
Our third major project would be to research and carefully site the property in a landscape in the style of the 50s and built of the materials they would have used. There never had been a completed P&M landscaping project implemented in 1950 as the garden had not then been divided, although there is a sketch in the 1950s article.
This we could not reproduce since the site had changed and there was insufficient detail anyway. As I know the designer Dominic Cole, chairman of the Historic Gardens Society, who is currently refurbishing the landscaping at Churchill Gardens, Powell & Moya’s huge Westminster contract of the same period, we commissioned a modernist garden design from him which we also aim to have installed, of which more later.
A fascinating cultural project in all!
Our sources of inspiration
With those three major elements in place – refurbishing the original extension, building the second extension to the architect’s design and restoring one of the interior design elements – we set about finding sources of inspiration for the general organisation and design of the space. For this we cast our net quite wide as well as focussing on other content such as the lost glazed verandah, that the demolished houses on Mount Lane could suggest, again of the same period, and that would be in keeping with the design ethic of the young Powell& Moya practice.
All in all a fascinating cultural project!