Surely the time has come for a mock Tudor revival?

A long time ago, in a construction technology far, far away, houses were made from thick oak beams tenon jointed and pegged, bricks or sticks and plaster to fill in the gaps to make walls. Often the filling was painted white and the timber stained black. This produces a very picturesque house that is also capable of achieving good height and wide spans. Nice. 

The look is so iconic and pretty that it has been replicated as a form of decoration, especially for upper storeys, in later periods when the structural needs have been answered more economically – usually with bonded brickwork. In terms of its symbolism the pattern occupies a very happy place, neither ecclesiastical like gothic stonework nor the pagan classicism of columns and cut profiles often associated with government or commerce. The feel is grand without being oppressive and having a rural or homely feel, perhaps even a bit leisurely. It also has an interesting relationship with modernism, being adopted by the rural Utopianism of the Arts and Crafts movement. So culturally, mock Tudor is (should be!) so hot right now. It’s the anticorporate building envelope. 

  

A hole in the ground

It had a perfectly round door like a porthole, painted green, with a shiny yellow brass knob in the exact middle. The door opened on to a tube-shaped hall like a tunnel: a very comfortable tunnel without smoke, with panelled walls, and floors tiled and carpeted, provided with polished chairs. and lots and lots of pegs for hats and coats – the hobbit was fond of visitors. The tunnel wound on and on, going fairly but not quite straight into the hill – The Hill, as all the people for many miles around called it – and many little round doors opened out of it, first on one side and then the on another. No going upstairs for the hobbit: bedrooms, bathrooms, cellars, pantries (lots of these), wardrobes (he had whole rooms devoted to clothes), kitchens, dining-rooms, all were on the same floor, and indeed on the same passage. The best rooms were all on the left-hand side (going in), for these were the only ones to have windows, deep-set round windows looking over his garden, and meadows beyond, sloping down to the river. 

This hobbit was a very well-to-do hobbit, and his name was Baggins. 

J R R Tolkein, The Hobbit

Moseley road baths

Since 2013 the council have decided not to retain this and other pools in the city. Already neglected the building suffers from a lack of maintenance and the structure is past due for repair. A local group campaigns for it’s preservation and active use. Personally I would like to see proposals that avoid adaption to generic sports standards and instead seek to promote it’s unique qualities as a destination for character bathing. Many parts if the building including the bathing rooms, where men and women could take a bath, are disused. The building is linked to it’s sister building, a library, and harks back to an age of public buildings for health, education and improvement for the public. On our age of mean individualism there seem to be no political institutions who can support this kind of project. Hats off to you Edwardians!
20140714-164327-60207879.jpg

20140714-164331-60211808.jpg

20140714-164326-60206267.jpg

20140714-164324-60204803.jpg

20140714-164329-60209494.jpg

magic moment

I saw this one in Solihull on a client visit. The black timber and basket weave brickwork creates a nice pattern around the entrance but I most like the roofs and windows. Here we have, from left to right oriels (windows that hang out there outside the wall line) a tall leaded glass portrait window to the entrance-and-stairs hallway (which breaks the floor line to show you that it lights the stairs), then a stone window with dormer above and then a pair of bays – tall at the bottom, short at the top. Going back to the black painted garage doors are four lovely diamond windows. So, a nice selection. Now onto the roofs. We can see at first glance a lot of roofy action – gables, hips at different heights and a dropped eaves at the little dormer window. Look again and the builders have been a bit smart and they have kept the roof lines running throughout for both the main roof and the gables – whoever designed this knew that they would be asked to draw up the rafter plan and set the pitches. The gables are achieved by stepping forward a section of wall to form a bay and the rafters built up off the side walls – but look how low the roof comes down over the stairs – he doesn’t need the headroom of a first floor room. He brings forward another bay for the porch – but the top gable roof runs all the way down to the porch wall – you try it on your next project! the dropped eaves above the basket weave is usually achieved by stepping forward the wall so that the roof reaches down further to reach it (or rather comes up from a lower level). You can see a little return wall in the bay. The house plan – what we can see of it – is a long rectangle with just a couple of bays at the front to create interest – but the builder has done a lot with what he has here. Good job!OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA