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power generation


Low on luxury but big on kudos, Alison and Peter Smithson's Solar Pavilion is ideal for those who can't stand country cottage cosiness, but still dream of a rural retreat What is it?

A small two-bedroom, two-storey house built by Alison and Peter Smithson in 1961, called The Solar Pavilion. The bedrooms are 'notional'- the owner says 'you sleep where you drop'. It was built as an experiment (unsuccessful) in solar heating and became the Smithsons' private country retreat for almost 20 years. Architectural celebrities such as Reyner Banham often visited.

Where is it?

Upper Lawn, West Tisbury, Wiltshire.

It looks out towards Fonthill Forest, in the direction of William Beckford's ruined Fonthill Abbey. It is reached along a single track lane and you need a car to get there.

Anything else?

A highly personal building by the originators of the New Brutalism.

The present owner bought it from the Smithsons in 1980 and has used it ever since. He says: 'It's a most magical place. It plays on the Japanese ideas of interior and exterior.' The garden, designed by Alison, is a part of the house. 'You never feel you are inside, ' the present owner adds. 'It's a severe building in terms of comfort. The Smithsons didn't believe in comfort.

Everything is raw.'

The owner has made few changes;

he has installed double glazing on the upper floor and added a stove.

He has also built a small studio in the corner of the garden.

Unique features?

It is all unique. There is a Japanese style WC/shower room on the ground floor, with a loo similar to those used in the Smithsons'epochmaking school at Hunstanton (194954). It incorporates part of the surrounding 18th-century stone walls surrounding the site formerly occupied by a worker's cottage. And Alison put a beautiful cobbled courtyard around the house. She also made a mound in the garden - the Smithsons were into mounds.


It is in reasonably good condition although it shows some signs of wear. Lichen has grown over the teak window frames. But no major problems. The owner put on a new Sarnafil roof a few years ago.

What can I do with it?

The owner wants someone who will 'take it on and look after it, ' as he has done. He is parting with it reluctantly.

What will it cost me?

How do you put a price on something so personal and so rare? The seller's first concern is to find the right buyer but do not think in terms of a bargain.

How do I find out more?

Contact Bob Clark, 7 St James's Street Bath BA1 2TW Tel 01225 338364

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