LIFE-ENHANCING LYONS HAS BEEN WELL SERVED
This is in response to your correspondents' comments on the Eric Lyons and Span exhibition at the RIBA (AJ letters 07.12.06).
I am no doubt prejudiced as my daughters were born at Castle Green; one of them went on to become an architect, and the other started her married life in Weymede, although we did have to strip down the Tyrolean kitchen and replace the Tudor handles that had been installed by the previous occupier.
Maybe the exhibition is 'rather at', but it is exemplary nevertheless. Models wouldn't help here. Span developments need to be experienced from the ground level, as at Templemere, where the subtle contouring allows paths to disappear from view as one moves around. Usually the new planting (now mature) complemented existing specimen trees.
Living at Castle Green was a life-enhancing experience.
Well-designed internal spaces; good orientation and top-lighting;built-in furniture; a logical hierarchy of private to public spaces;and a safe harbour for children to play in.
Experimental? I don't think so - simply a determined and skilful developer/designer team who were catering for what was then a niche market. It was the early days of Habitat and affordable quality design.
Forty years ago, when architects earned £2,000 a year, these were affordable homes, at £6,500. Today, when architects earn £35,000, they are no longer affordable at £300,000.
That's all to do with rising land prices, but also probably the clue as to why Span has never been bettered.
For further reading I'd recommend Eric Lyons and Span, edited by Barbara Simms, from the RIBA bookshop.
Colin James, Witney, Oxfordshire