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Listed: 1950s bombshell in Burnley

Architecture minister John Penrose has handed a Grade II-listing to a 1958 Modernist house in Burnley

The announcement to give statutory protection to the Domus house comes as the minister turned down a fourth bid to list London’s Southbank Centre.

Penrose agreed with English Heritage’s recommendation that the post-war ‘contemporary’ style, two-storey home designed by Alan Chambers demonstrated ‘high levels of architectural interest and intactness’.

domus_burnley

Why it was listed: English Heritage’s report

Domus retains its original layout virtually unaltered. The house was designed by Alan Chambers, and the bespoke nature of the design clearly shows that he consulted closely with the Cooksons as clients to design a house fitting to their lifestyle.

They did not have children and thus the whole of the lower ground floor was used as a socialising and hobby space, with a dedicated party room opening onto the patio, a large double garage, and a dark room (now used as a bedroom). On the main ground floor, the use of open-plan living areas, together with the change in ceiling heights, creates a sense of spaciousness, while the enclosing walls of the bedrooms provides a contrast between shared and separate zones within the house.

There was an emphasis upon luxury particularly in the master bedroom, with its balcony, ensuite bathroom, and separate dressing room, and also on flexibility, with the second bedroom designed with a concertina wall enabling part to be used as an office space, with a hatch through to the adjacent smaller room used by the company secretary.

The interior displays a high level of attention to detail throughout. Contrasting flooring is used to denote different areas of use, most obviously apparent in the bold terrazzo tiles used for the entrance hall and to form a virtual corridor to the kitchen, and the large cream tiles used in the open plan living and dining room.

This was an idea that originated in the United States in the late 1930s/40s with architects such as Marcel Breuer who developed the idea of expressing different planes in different materials; the bold terrazzo tiles abut the enclosing bedroom walls, which have full-height walnut panelling incorporating wall-height doors treated in the same manner to seamlessly blend into the wall plane.

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