In the latest issue of the RIBA Journal, Hugh Pearman talks about the extension to the village of Norton St Philip in Somerset, designed by Robert Adam with Lochailort Investments and Bloor Homes.
Robert Adam’s efforts to maintain context and the traditional village plan work at Norton St Philip
The style argument about modern versus traditional architecture, when it comes to building new homes in the countryside, is scarcely an issue. This is the great divide in architecture: with certain exceptions, cities are modernist, while rural England is traditionalist. Some town-and-country architects run separate offices for the two conditions, as Will Alsop used to do. In swathes of the countryside, particularly near historic villages and market towns, you might make some headway with one-off homes in the Grand Designs manner, or even multiple-house developments in the HAB-style modern-vernacular vein, but a whole housing estate of more than 50 houses? Chances are the planners will feel deeply uneasy with anything that they don’t deem to be somehow stylistically contextual: and so, most likely, will be the local residents. In which case, better for everyone that your trad development is from the hand of a good architect rather than the half-baked offerings of the mass housebuilders. Here is an excellent example. Down in Somerset, Robert Adam is building a sizeable extension to the village of Norton St Philip. This is a very accomplished piece of work that shows a keen understanding of the way real villages are organised.