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- Category: A
- Date Added: 18/04/2007
- Local Authority: Scottish Borders
- Planning Authority: Scottish Borders
- Parish: Selkirk
National Grid Reference
- NGR: NT 47341 31503
- Coordinates: 347341, 631503
Peter Womersley, 1957, integral addition in contemporary style, 1982. Single storey, 14 by 5-bay rectangular-plan Modernist modular flat-roofed house incorporating courtyard space and open car port set on gently sloping site in cleared woodland. Makore timber-framed construction on 8ft grid pattern over concrete raft; white horizontal base course band; higher level band forming clerestory and continuous white facia board at eaves with aluminium trim. Asymmetrical coloured vitroslab panels, clear plate plyglass glazing, and vertically boarded Makore denote living, bathroom and sleeping areas. Entrance screen with five horizontal panels formerly coloured, with later surface tile mosaic added by Bernat Klein. Later addition of studio with contemporary detailing partially infilling former open courtyard and pond to E corner (1982).
Plain timber doors; single glazed metal-framed sliding patio doors; double-glazed, timber-framed fixed lights incorporating horizontal coloured glass panels in yellow and green at intervals; plain varnished timber vertically boarded sections. Internal concealed rainwater drainage to soakaways.
INTERIOR: fine Modernist open plan interior with original design scheme in place including bespoke fitted furniture and storage sections, travertine and tiled flooring, polished obeche wood ceiling, light fittings and contemporary furniture. All textiles were specially designed, dyed and woven by Bernat Klein. Open plan main living space with sunken central floor area, floor to ceiling glazing, double sided grey marble central hearth, and fitted timber cabinets with integral lighting. Panelled African hardwood walls including indigbo, rosewood and walnut, with flush hidden doors leading to bedroom suites. Main bedroom suite has flush cupboards on three walls with characteristic 'bedhead' wall of horizontal strip walnut. Original cobalt blue tiles to kitchen floor and simple timber units.
BOUNDARY WALLS: Drystone walls and gateposts to entrance drive. Low level wall sections perpendicular to building plan to define outside spaces: low retaining wall to NE corner.
Statement of Special Interest
High Sunderland is a fine early example of the work of the internationally renowned Borders based architect Peter Womersley (1923-1993), a signature work embodying his characteristic geometric modular design and surviving in its original condition to both the exterior and interior.
High Sunderland was commissioned in 1956 by Bernat Klein, a well respected textiles designer and prominent member of the Borders art scene who incorporated his own textiles into the original design. Mr Klein had seen Womersley's earlier work, the Grade II listed Farnley Hey (1954) in Huddersfield, Britain's best known example of the American contemporary style with rough stone walls and extensive windows. It was commissioned on this basis although an earlier design using stone walls was amended for cost reasons. Mr Klein remains resident and the fact that all of his fabrics are in situ enhances the significance of the building as a set design piece.
Womersley specialised in creating an expansive feel within a house with relatively small floor area by using minimal circulation spaces, choosing to treat the house as one entity. He defined spaces with changing floor levels, using flush cupboard blocks as walls with 'secret' doors leading to separate areas. He was inspired by the Californian 'case study homes' which employed open planned spaces surrounded by shady gardens. High Sunderland was designed to be used as a commercial office space for meetings as well as a home; the grid plan allowing for possible further expansion as part of the design brief. The courtyard and pond area was filled in to make office space when the separate studio building was sold in 1982. The open plan playroom area designed with sleeping alcoves for the children was intended to be divided into separate bedrooms at a later stage.
High Sunderland was a forerunner to Erno Goldfinger's Grade II listed Benjamins Mount of 1967, also a flat roofed modular open plan design with 2 separate wings, and with a monumentality that defies its small scale. High Sunderland is a geometric modular building that sits successfully in its natural landscape due to its simple flat roofed design and the clever use of the open yet enclosed courtyard spaces which linking the house to its environment.
Kitty Cruft, Buildings of Scotland, Borders (2006), p376. Charles Strang, Borders and Berwick (1994), p219. RIBA Journal (May1969), p189. Architects' Approach to Architecture, RIBA Journal, (May 1969). Working with Nature, RIBA Journal, (Jan 2002). RIBA Journal, (July 1973). House, Architecture and Building, (July 1958). Elaine Harwood, A Guide to post-war listed buildings (2000).
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