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Ewan Cameron builds pavilion in grounds of Modernist classic

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Glasgow-based Ewan Cameron Architects has completed this guesthouse in the grounds of Michael Manser’s 1971 Capel Manor House in the village of Horsmonden, Kent

The architect was asked to design a two-bedroom guest pavilion next to an Italianate orangery from 1860 and Manser’s much-published glass and steel icon.

Cameron describes his response as an architectural haiku - ‘formal composition of separate planar elements to frame the formal garden’.

The practice worked with engineers David Narro Associates, to achieve the zinc-clad, ‘floating’ lightweight roof structure.

Originally commissioned by MP John Howard, the then private personal secretary to Edward Heath, Capel Manor House has been the country home of television producer and entrepreneur Remy Blumenfeld since 2001.

The Manser house was featured in the BBC4 programme, Living With Modernism (2006) and in the 2009 film, The Good Night, starring Penelope Cruz and Gwyneth Paltrow.

Michael Manser's 1971 Capel Manor House near Horsmonden, Kent

Source: RIBA Library Photographs Collection

Michael Manser’s 1971 Capel Manor House near Horsmonden, Kent

The architect’s view

‘Reached via a secluded woodland passageway bedecked by rhodedendrons, we first encounter the simple rear façade [of the new guesthouse] bedded down within the garden, embodying the Zen principle of Hide and Reveal.
We can then choose to continue our walk through the gardens, passing through the centre of the building, which is open to the sky. This passageway is formed by two spine walls between the bedroom suites, giving each complete privacy.

Cast in Beton Brut concrete, their rough mass contrasts with lighter zinc and glass elements while the wood grain imprint left from the timber shutters, befits the woodland context. Each mirrored suite is entered through a pivoting walnut door. Inside they are subdivided by screens into a dressing area and bathroom, featuring hand-carved white Jaipur marble baths and basins. Finally the drama of the bedroom area and terrace is revealed: glass to glass walls, with elegant lightweight frames, bring the garden into the room and present the guests with carefully framed views of the valley below.


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