A question of style
Country Life UK|July 28, 2021
When building a new house, the biggest choice is between classic and contemporary. Eleanor Doughty talks to the owners of newly built houses and finds that the answer lies in combining the best of both
Eleanor Doughty

A FEW miles outside Macclesfield is Henbury Hall. Based on Palladio’s Villa Capra, ‘La Rotonda’ (‘Variations on perfection’, May 19), it is a neo-Classical feat of modern architecture. It was the brainchild of the designer Felix Kelly, his client, businessman Sebastian de Ferranti, and the Classical architect Julian Bicknell. Completed in 1986, it represents the extreme of a conundrum faced by those planning to build a house: does one go for a traditional style or a more modern look?

Whatever the direction, it doesn’t have to be about extremes. Architect-turned-landscape designer Anna Spruit would be the first to admit that this dilemma wasn’t an issue when she began planning a house in West Sussex. ‘I wanted it to be modern because I am an architect—I wouldn’t have considered building anything else,’ she says. ‘I did a Pinterest board of what I wanted, and half of the images were from [Putney practice] McLean Quinlan, so we got them on board.’

The finished product has a zinc roof, flint façade and galvanised steel windows, a timber ceiling in the kitchen and glass walls that bring the outside in. ‘Traditional’ architecture simply isn’t her bag. ‘It seems a shame to be replicating something that’s not of your time,’ explains Mrs Spruit. The house, she adds, ‘is not cutting edge in any way, but it doesn’t look like a traditional house’.

Without the journey from Classical to modern, “it wouldn’t be the house it is”

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