Thursday 27 September 2012

Welcome to 3 Church Walk, Aldeburgh, Suffolk

H.T. ‘Jim’ Cadbury-Brown was a British architect best known for his part in the design of the iconic Royal College of Art building in Kensington Gore, London, and earlier work on landscapes and pavilions for the Festival of Britain in the summer of 1951. 

Emily Richardson, 3 Church Walk view from garden, August 2012

It was while working for Ernő Goldfinger he met his future wife and collaborator Betty Dale. Although the couple had a successful architectural practice in London, they frequently visited the coastal town of Aldeburgh, Suffolk, befriending the composer Benjamin Britten. In the early sixties, the couple designed and built a place of their own, as well as for Imogen Holst, at 3 Church Walk, Aldeburgh on a site originally earmarked by Britten for an opera house. The house incorporates and expresses the couple’s modernist ideals. Since Jim’s death in 2009 the house has been uninhabited due to legal issues with his estate. Many of the couple’s possessions remain, signs of a former life: the Breur chair is where Jim posed sitting on it for the photograph in his Guardian newspaper obituary; stacks of mouldy classical and jazz LPs line the living room; marble tablets Jim engraved with students of the Royal College of Art in the sixties collect dust. The once tended garden - planted with seeds collected from the couple’s travels - is a verdant wilderness encroaching on the rational lines of the house. 

Detail of the design of the Royal College of Art, Kensington 
Gore (1955-60) by H.T. 'Jim' Cadbury-Brown with Hugh Casson 
and Robert Goodden.

We propose to make a film portrait of 3 Church Walk, employing an archaeological approach to understand this unique example of domestic modernism in relation to the architects’ lives, influences and attitudes. Primarily focusing on the neglected house and garden, the film will explore the bespoke architectural details of the house; the significance of  objects, furniture and artworks contained within it; and the fascinating connection between post-war Brutalist architecture and the picturesque.