Not Brutal but Savage

The Barn, Exmouth

The Barn, Exmouth by Edward Schroder Prior, 1896. Photoset taken this week.

In The Nature of Gothic John Ruskin proposed a list of the characteristics of Gothic architecture. This was an attempt to describe architecture as a living process rooted in building. In the sphere of the builder the characteristics of Gothic were: Savageness or Rudeness, Love of Change, Love of Nature, Disturbed Imagination, Obstinacy, Generosity.

E.S. Prior’s buildings embodied Savageness in an architecture that tried to link the discipline to the process of building rather than the professionalism of the Victorian era. His buildings are traditional and experimental employing novel plans and uses of material and allowing the process of building in a specific environment to decisively affect the character of the building.

The Barn, Exmouth

The butterfly plan of The Barn creates a sun-trap between its arms and exploits wide views of the sea (the English Channel). It has a linear arts & crafts plan broken to shorten circulation and respond to entrance and view. The house was built out of local stone – ashlar mixed with pebbles and boulders – and originally thatched (the house burned in 1905 and the roof was re-covered in slate).


Before the fire, from The English House by Hermann Muthesius

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