Ted Cullinan’s Minster Lovell, Residential Study Centre, Cotswold

June 22, 2010

The picturesque Cotswold can hardly fail to remind most of us of picture postcards, chocolate boxes and soft schmaltzy classical music but it would be tragic to ignore the vernacular and even worse to turn up the nose at genuine attempt to build modern buildings in these delightful environments.

Edward Cullinan was commissioned to design this residential Study Centre soon after leaving Denys Lasdun’s office and building his own mews house in Camden in 1965.

It may be worth saying a word or two about this generous architect/teacher and now also a Royal Gold Medal winner for 2008, who has influenced hundreds of young architects to carry on the best traditions of a very special ‘romantic pragmatist’ branch of expressionist modern architecture in this country for last half of the 20th century. Calling him ‘collective architectural Dad’ to me is an apt description.

Kenneth Frampton said that Ted  produced “.. an architecture of Resistance” and that in his work    ” .. both landscape and materiality work together to secure the uniqueness of any prevalent and continuing sense of place”

In my humble view this early project from his office encapsulates the gist of the quotation above.

These plans are attributable to Architectural Design, February 1968. It is hoped that the younger architecture enthusiasts could observe that the humble approach to create this subtle and sensitive environment does not use any ‘tight rope tricks’ and yet produces an ageless building which can not fail to enrich all the senses of viewers and users for a long long time to come.

The three buildings in dark lines were the existing structures. The main house was converted to a common room, dining room, kitchen and offices; a malt house is now a library; and the barn now houses the conference rooms.

The cross section (left to right) Roof forming cloister round the courtyard; Section through the new main residential block, cloister run next to the boundary wall at the back;  Cross section through barn and conference room.

Top left. The old malt house now a library opposite, the old house now connected to the new long housing wing.Bottom right. The footpath passes between the conference rooms on right and new bedrooms on left and leads to the staff houses at the far end of the site. Note the use of insitu concrete and concrete blocks with simple stained timber and stone walls and roofs.The new residential wing turns at right angles and reaches the river, enclosing the communal space and separating the staff quarters. The end elevation of this new bedroom block helps to define the river’s edge.

Top left. Conference centre with cloister link with residential block; Bottom right. As you leave the village, all you see is the back of the old house and the stone boundary wall forming cloisters behind the residential block.  This was my second visit to see the building after about 30 years and I almost missed the building because it was so well merged in its surroundings.

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