UK's first Frank Lloyd Wright house set for refusal
Plans to build an unrealised Frank Lloyd Wright house near Bristol look set to be rejected by the local authority
Stephen Brooks Architects’ proposals for the UK’s first house by the American architect has been recommended for refusal ahead of the next week’s meeting of North Somerset Council’s north area planning committee (5 December).
According to the authority, the proposed scheme for the green-belt site at Tyntesfield Springs, Wraxall did not ‘demonstrate very special circumstances [which would] outweigh the damage to the countryside’.
Despite Frank Lloyd Wright being named the ‘greatest American architect of all time’ the planners said that the proposal is not considered to be of ‘exceptional quality’ or ‘innovative design’.
Stephen Brooks, founder of Stephen Brooks Architects hit back, saying: ‘North Somerset Council Planning Department refuses to acknowledge the importance of the last Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house to be built.’
‘The council fails to accept this house as outstanding or innovative, or that it reflects the highest standards in architecture - all criteria for allowing permission within the Green Belt. [Yet] one wonders what outstanding buildings of the 21st or 20th century North Somerset has found acceptable? Does anybody know?’
Based on a design drawn up in 1947 for Dr and Mrs Arthur O’Keefe of Santa Barbara, California, the design team spent eight years negotiating with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation for permission to build the home thousands of miles away from its intended location.
Extract from the planning report
Recommendation: Refuse for the following reasons:
- The proposal constitutes inappropriate development within the Green Belt that would be harmful to the openness of the Green Belt and conflict with the purposes of including land within it. The proposal is not considered to be ‘exceptional quality’ or ‘innovative design’ and no very special circumstances have been demonstrated to outweigh the harm caused and the proposal is therefore contrary to policy CS6 of the North Somerset Core Strategy and policy RD/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and guidance set out in the National Planning Policy Framework under Section 9 - Protecting Green Belt Land.
- The site lies in the open countryside in an area where new residential development is limited to that required to meet a proven agricultural or other local need or other special circumstances. No such need or special circumstances have been demonstrated in this case. The site has limited access to local services and facilities, employment opportunities and public transport and future occupants would be reliant upon the private motor vehicle. The proposal would therefore result in an unsustainable pattern of development that conflicts with the locational strategy for development set out in policies CS33 of the Core Strategy and policy H/8 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and to guidance set out under paragraph 55 of the National Planning Policy Framework.
- The proposed development, by reason of its siting and form, would adversely affect the rural character of the area which is devoid of new development. The proposal is therefore contrary to policies CS12 and the landscape section of policy CS5 of the North Somerset Core Strategy, policy GDP/3 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan and to guidance contained in the North Somerset Landscape Character Assessment.
- The proposed development would involve the intensification of use of an existing substandard vehicular access to the detriment of highway safety. The proposed development is therefore contrary to policy CS10 of the North Somerset Core Strategy and policy T/10 of the North Somerset Replacement Local Plan.
Previous story (AJ 18.09.13)
Revealed: plans to build Frank Lloyd Wright house near Bristol
Stephen Brooks Architects has revealed plans to build an unrealised Frank Lloyd Wright house in rural Tyntesfield Springs, Wraxall, near Bristol.
According to the Bath-based architect and planning consultants WYG, the scheme ‘will be both the first house in the UK to be constructed to a design by Wright and the last house designed by [him] anywhere in the world.’
The proposal, which has been submitted to North Somerset Council under the so-called Country House clause of the NPPF (clause 55), is based on a design drawn up in 1947 for Dr and Mrs Arthur O’Keefe of Santa Barbara, California.
The design team with their clients, Dr and Mrs Pratt, have spent eight years negotiating with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation to get the archived blueprints released and for permission to build the super-green, waterside house thousands of miles from its intended location.
Explaining the design process, practice founder Stephen Brooks said: ‘The design was selected by our client who had visited many houses in the US and particularly wanted to build to a Frank Lloyd Wright design. The design was selected to compliment the site, but the site was chosen because of it’s special qualities, and with a possible choice of Frank Lloyd Wright designs in mind.
He added: ‘Frank Lloyd Wright’s designs used either brick or stone depending on the location, but both used to emphasise horizontality. We examined both options, with supporting samples from Ibstock who also supplied the County Wicklow house for Marc Coleman [completed 2007].
‘Our client preferred to use local stone, and we have worked with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation architects to develop the external wall design to meet UK Building Regulations and preserve the design authenticity. Our design has also includes the square windows within cast stone surrounds, storey height glazed screens, integration of the steel frame, and roof design combining SIPS panels with steel structure and copper finish to maintain the design intent.’
Commenting on the design, Ben Holbrook, an architectural assistant at local practice Stride Treglown Tektus, said: ’It’s quite an exciting opportunity, although it calls into question the very nature of ‘site specific’ architecture; ironic considering Wright was probably one of the few notable architects of his time to take seriously the notion of place. However the proposed site near Wraxall is supposedly very similar in nature to the original site for which the house was designed.
He added: ‘In this instance, where the original architect is of such renown, perhaps the building transcends the usual role of architecture in the public’s consciousness to become more akin to a traditional ‘work of art’ in itself.’
However the planning application (click here to see the application in full) has attracted some opposition. One online objector branded it an unwelcome ‘museum piece’, adding: ‘A design from the 1940s is not what a contemporary and innovative eco-friendly architect would propose.’