Upper Lawn Cottage (Solar Pavilion), with associated garden walls and raised patio


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
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Date first listed:
Statutory Address:
Upper Lawn Cottage (Solar Pavilion), with associated garden walls and raised patio, Upper Lawn, West Tisbury


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Statutory Address:
Upper Lawn Cottage (Solar Pavilion), with associated garden walls and raised patio, Upper Lawn, West Tisbury

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

Wiltshire (Unitary Authority)
West Tisbury
National Grid Reference:
ST 92334 29448



WEST TISBURY UPPER LAWN Upper Lawn Cottage (Solar Pavilion), with associated garden walls and raised patio

14-FEB-11 II A small domestic building designed as a holiday home and built in 1961-62 by Alison and Peter Smithson for themselves.

MATERIALS: It incorporates the remains of an earlier C18 stone cottage and garden wall, which provide a base for a timber American Balloon-frame, and concrete-supporting beams. It is clad in teak and aluminium, where not glazed.

PLAN: It has a rectangular plan with two rooms separated by the hearth of the earlier cottage.

ELEVATIONS: Three elevations of the house face onto a courtyard to the south. The two-storey building consists of a piano nobile, with the service rooms located on the lower floor. The three courtyard-facing elevations are Miesian walls of glass. Those on the lower floor are framed in teak and retract to open into the courtyard. An aluminium cill band separates the two storeys and a cornice of the same material tops the flat-roofed building. The north-facing elevation, of uncoursed ashlar, is the rebuilt and latterly fenestrated wall of the walled garden on the ground floor. The glazing wraps around the eastern bay of the first floor; the west is clad in aluminium.

INTERIOR: The interior has cedar plywood cladding throughout. The kitchen, in the western ground-floor bay, has modern kitchen fittings, repeating the style of those of 1970. A sink and shower room is sited to its rear. The 'garden-room' in the eastern ground-floor bay has a built-in window seat and bench seating. The ground floor has sealed concrete floors; the first floor, reached by a fixed timber ladder stair, has boarded timber floors.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: C18 rough stone walls extend either side of the house and enclose the garden. They incorporate the remains of the C18 cottages demolished for the pavilion, including windows, all but one blocked, and the far stack. The footings of the cottages form a terrace to the pavilion.

HISTORY: The Smithsons met at Durham University and married in 1949. In 1950, after having worked for the London County Council they established their own architectural partnership. The style of their work is associated with the New Brutalism movement, essentially founded by them, but also with the Pop Art Movement, as expressed in their House of the Future for the Daily Mail Ideal Home Exhibition of 1956. Examples of listed buildings designed by the Smithsons include the student housing at St Hilda's College in Oxford (listed at Grade II) and Smithdon High School in Hunstanton in Norfolk of 1949-54 (listed at Grade II*).

When Upper Lawn was acquired by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1958, it comprised a half-derelict thatched cottage - probably originally a pair of cottages - set into the north side of a walled garden. The first designs, by Alison, date from 1958-9 and a detailed photographic record made by Peter shows that the house was constructed in 1961-2.

The original C18 structure had a three-room plan, originally probably a pair of cottages, with a fireplace at each end and an unheated room in the centre, set against the side of a walled garden. Photographs taken after the purchase in 1958 indicate that the eastern bay had already collapsed. The walls enclosing the garden were retained, including that forming the north wall of the original house, together with the fireplace walls at either end. One of these formed the central cross-wall of the new house, with one bay to the east on the site of the original house and a second bay added in the opposite direction. This bay, facing west, has the main living room and, since 1970, the kitchen and bathroom. This solution was adopted to give the best views of the surrounding countryside, which opens north and west towards Fonthill Abbey, landscaped by William Beckford in the early C19 (included on the Register of Parks and Gardens at Grade II*).

The building carefully expresses what the Smithsons meant by Brutalism, their manifesto for which was published in Architectural Design in January 1955.

The building was restored in 2002-3 by Sergison Bates. Engineering was by Derek Sugden of Ove Arup and Partners, later Arup Associates.

SOURCES Architectural Design, Vol.33, no.10 (October 1963), 482-3 'The Pavilion and the Route', Architectural Design, Vol.35, no.3 (March 1965), 145-6. Quaderns d' Arquitectura i Urbanisme, no.163 (October-December 1984), 31; English translation 13-14 Marco Vidotto, Alison & Peter Smithson (1991), 33-4 Alison & Peter Smithson, Changing the Art of Inhabitation, London, Architectural Association, 1994 Alison & Peter Smithson, The Charged Void: Architecture (2001), 238 '"Patio and Pavilion" Reconstructed', in AA Files, no. 47 (Summer 2002), 37-44 Bruno Krucker, Complex Ordinariness, The Upper Lawn Pavilion by Alison and Peter Smithson (2002) L'Architecture d'Aujourd-hui, no.344 (January-February 2003), 28-115 Max Risselada & Dirk van den Heuvel, Alison and Peter Smithson - from the House of the Future to a house of today, Rotterdam, 010 (2003) Ellis Woodman, 'Staying Modern', in Building Design (5 December 2003), 10-12 Neil Bingham, 'Simplicity of the Smithsons', in Country Life, Vol.198, no.1 (1 January 2004), 48-9

REASONS FOR DESIGNATION: Upper Lawn Cottage, a small domestic building designed and built 1961-62 by Alison and Peter Smithson, is designated at Grade II for the following principal reasons: * Architectural Interest: it is a handsomely proportioned example of a post-war, New Brutalist-style dwelling * Innovation: it combines traditional timber-framing techniques, modern materials and the remains of an C18 stone dwelling * Intactness: the building remains as it was intended, retaining historic interior features and plan form * Historic Interest: the building was designed and built by the Smithsons; an internationally-significant architectural partnership and is representative of the Smithson's pioneering New Brutalist architectural style * Historic Interest: it was the only building designed, built, and inhabited by the Smithsons for their own use, and one of their few realised domestic projects


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This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

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