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Creek Vean house
near Feock, Pill Creek, Falmouth, Cornwall
Creek Vean house
associated engineer
Anthony Hunt
Anthony Hunt Associates
date  1963 - 1966
era  Modern  |  category  Building  |  reference  SW826386
photo  courtesy Anthony Hunt
A family house with a significant pedigree and an unconventional plan, Creek Vean nestles into the coastal landscape of Cornwall. It's an early work of the architectural group called Team 4, the launch pad for two influential British architects — Richard Rogers and Norman Foster.
The house project brought Team 4 together with structural engineer Anthony Hunt, principal of the then newly-founded Anthony Hunt Associates. It was commissioned by the parents of Richard Rogers' wife, Su Rogers — Marcus and Rene Brumwell. Marcus Brumwell was an art collector, advertising man and founder of the Design Research Unit, an organisation that promoted British industrial design. The Brumwells were friendly with many artists, including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth. They wanted a place in Cornwall to display their collection.
The plan of the house consists of two trapezoidal blocks, one a two-storey living area, the other a single storey of bedrooms. They are connected by a glazed-roofed corridor that doubles as a gallery. The corridor roof uses patent glazing held into aluminium lay bars by neoprene gaskets — the sole hint at the architects’ engagement with advanced building technologies that was to become the hallmark of their High Tech work to come.
Between the blocks, steps lead down the hillside to a boathouse on the edge of Pill Creek. The corridor gallery crosses under these steps at right angles, and its roof is solid at the intersection. The shape of the two-storey block, fanning out towards the shore, gives it panoramic views of the Fal estuary, particularly from the upper level. The ground floors are cut into the steep hillside and the bedroom block's flat roof is covered in vegetation. The house appears to be carved into the landscape, the slate finish on the ground level floors adding to this impression.
The house was constructed using traditional methods, with exposed loadbearing concrete blockwork and in situ reinforced concrete slabs. The upper level plate glass windows are frameless. The complex plan and level changes, discontinuous loadbearing walls and full-height voids meant extensive and laborious blockwork cutting on site and lots of ingenuity from Hunt. It certainly demonstrates his willingness to work towards realising an architectural vision. The structural design is well-resolved but unobtrusive.
Creek Vean is an interesting example of the early work of its collaborators, who went on to produce some of Britain's best examples of High Tech building, taking quite a different approach to construction. The house was Grade II listed in 1997 and has since been raised to Grade II*.
Architect: Richard Rogers, Norman Foster, Wendy Foster (Team 4)
Quantity surveyor: Hanscomb Partnership
Research: ND
bibliography
"The Engineer's Contribution to Contemporary Architecture: Anthony Hunt"
by Angus MacDonald Thomas, Thomas Telford, London 2000
"Norman Foster" by Daniel Treiber, E & FN Spon, London, 1995
Location

Creek Vean house