Stephen Langer Architects

A Message from Lord Pickles and Lord Blunkett, followed by Stephen Langer Architects's best practice article

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Stephen Langer Architects is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Blunkett signature Rt Hon The Lord David Blunkett
Pickles signature Rt Hon The Lord Eric Pickles

www.stephenlanger.co.uk

BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
20 | WEST WADDY ADP
delivered another similar project at
Manor Farm, Ruislip for the London
Borough of Hillingdon.
Meanwhile in Oxford, we are presently
engaged with specialist stone
restoration works at the Grade I listed
All Souls College.
Things are changing
There is no doubt that the business
of creating the built environment is
changing rapidly. The terrible fire at
Grenfell Tower and the construction
failures in Scottish schools have
thrown into sharp relief the quality
of the building control system. In
addition, we see the negative impact
of an increasing use of design and
build contracts where there is often
inadequate inspection of construction
works by independent professionals.
At West Waddy, the majority of our
commissions are traditionally procured,
and we value the opportunity of
getting on site to check compliance
and inspect the quality of the works
undertaken. It’s essential for us to
have that knowledge and feedback so
that we can learn from what we see
happening on site and thus ensure
our next project is designed to be not
only attractive but also economic and
practical to build.
There is no doubt that Brexit has
caused problems for our industry.
Given that much of what is
constructed in the UK is built using
borrowed money and with such
uncertainty over future interest
rates, it’s little wonder that major
investments are being put on hold.
Once we have a clear solution to the
Brexit conundrum, we expect the
construction industry will take off
again, spurred on by major government
investment in the Oxford-Cambridge
Arc and other infrastructure in our
region. In the meantime, our unique
blend of planning and design skills
is continuing to deliver a steady run
of new commissions in the sectors in
which we renowned; this has especially
been the case with repeat clients who
value the quality of what we do.
There is no
doubt in my
mind that the
professions of
planning and
architecture
must work
more closely
together if we
are to improve
the quality of
the built
environment
Science Building, Lord
Wandsworth College
21STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Managing Director
StephenLanger
A new country house
Good architecture is not only the design of places in
which to work and live, but a source of happiness too.
This is one of the guiding principles of Stephen Langer
Architects, who have over 30 years’ worth of experience and
expertise in all forms of traditional building. Their work includes
new country houses, flats and housing schemes, conservation
and extension of listed buildings, conversion of old industrial
structures, farm and land regeneration, and alternative uses
for rural buildings. In writing for
The Parliamentary Review
,
Managing Director Stephen Langer provides four examples of
their diverse and eclectic work, while also illustrating some of
the frustrations and challenges that obstruct best practice.
Hever Castle Military Museum for the East Kent Yeomanry is one of a series of
projects at Hever. The original museum was situated on the top floor of the
medieval castle, so a more accessible building was required. Employing “non-
architecture”, we designed a pair of canvas-clad and camouflaged structures set off
by an armoured car and 25-pound gun.
While the design is intended to exhibit parts of our military heritage, there is also
on top of this a sense of fun. This was perhaps not shared by the local planners,
who, despite recognising the value of a Grade I national asset with circa 300,000
tourists per annum, initially resisted the design on the grounds that it would have
an adverse impact on “the openness of the green belt”. What exactly was meant
by that is unclear, especially given that the museum is camouflaged. Planners have
their own language, which makes little or no sense to the rest of us.
FACTS ABOUT
STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS
»Managing Director:
StephenLanger
»Established in 1982
»Based in Tunbridge Wells,
Kent
»Services: Chartered architects
»No. of employees: 12
»Members of the Institute of
Historic Building Conservation
and Traditional Architecture
Group
Stephen Langer
Architects
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
22 | STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS
Working against architectural
decline
The tradition of building in this country
holds that the style and form is largely
determined by the availability and
characteristics of locally available
materials and precedent. This is what
defines the unique rich regional nature
of our built environment, encapsulated
in a relatively small land mass.
However, since the introduction of the
Town and Country Planning Act, 1947,
this has been severely damaged. By
definition, planning is “to make a plan;
devise methods of doing”. It would
be good if we could say that we have
built what we have because of town
planning, but unfortunately we have
done so despite, not because of, this
flawed system.
Style needs to be appropriate for
form and function. You cannot have
a thatched airport or an oak-framed
block of flats. The Vale of Rheidol
is an operational steam railway and
part of our industrial past, and hence
a significant tourist attraction. The
narrow-gauge steam museum in
Aberystwyth will be formed by the
re-erection of the 1850 London Bridge
station roof. Unlike the creativity
exercised at St Pancras, this significant
heritage asset was intended to be
scrapped to make way for a particularly
grim replacement. But although the USA
has got London Bridge, Wales will have
London Bridge Roof. The new buildings
will follow the industrial aesthetic of
the 1850 to 1900 period, employing
Great Western Railway design in the
manner of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Sadly, only a cursory nod is given to
the study of the historical built form
in architectural training. Students of
architecture and town planning are
taught that they have a role as social
engineers and directors of taste.
Architectural training has clung to the
theories of the Bauhaus, the machine
aesthetic and the early 20th-century
modernists. Our tutors deified Le
Corbusier and his book
Vers une
architecture
, which gave rise to the
utopian dream of residential towers
in a park. All we saw instead was
the suppression of the individual.
This persistent worship at the altar of
modernism by architects and town
planners has resulted in misery or
worse for tens of thousands, trapped
in multistorey ghettos.
Hever Castle
Military Museum
Vale of Rheidol Railway,
Aberystwyth
Sadly, only a
cursory nod is
given to the
study of the
historical built
form in
architectural
training
23STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Buildings fit for people
The burnt-down Granville Hotel site in
Bexhill-on-Sea was an unattractive hole
in the town centre for many years, with
several unbuildable consents created by
planning inertia. We wanted a humane
building with a sense of fun. Enjoying
the irony that modernism is just
another historical style, we designed
South Beach Apartments in the playful
seaside aesthetic of art deco.
Reaching for light and view, the
flats have at least one balcony large
enough for a table and chairs. Planning
was approved unanimously by local
politicians despite their conservation
officer’s objections to style in a town
where there are very few buildings of
any style, and their planning officer’s
objections to height. The series
Yes
Minister
may depict an ongoing
struggle at Westminster, but it’s a
struggle that’s generally lost at local
level, where politicians dance to the
tune of theirbureaucrats.
Designing a house is a great pleasure
and responsibility that should place
the expectations and lifestyle of the
person who will live there above all
else. Walking round Le Corbusier’s
Villa Savoye in France, one is overcome
by the crude industrialised savagery
of his architecture. It lacks any sense
of humanity, human scale or history
and is falling to pieces after less than
90 years. Modernis m was effectively a
burning of the history books. To build
a country manor, we drew from the
true international style of classicism
in the domestic tradition. Built from
locally sourced materials, the house has
four symmetrical but different façades
that are set off by a composition of
house, outbuildings, walled gardens
and an oast house. Construction in
this manner supports and preserves a
multitude of local trades and skills.
We and other proponents of traditional
and humane architecture have gone
some way to redress the balance in the
battle against the edifice of mediocrity
created by planning and modernism.
We’re all fascinated by advances in
design and technology, as we are by a
stunning piece of modern art. This does
not mean we want to take it home
or, in the case of a building, live in it.
Architects and planners should not
unilaterally determine what is right and
wrong for the people who are affected
by their work. They, like us, need to
listen and take note. Architecture
should aim to do more than just please
and delight; it should also serve.
Designing a
house is a great
pleasure and
responsibility
that should
place the
expectations
and lifestyle of
the person who
will live there
above all else
South Beach Apartments
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2019
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
22 | STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS
Working against architectural
decline
The tradition of building in this country
holds that the style and form is largely
determined by the availability and
characteristics of locally available
materials and precedent. This is what
defines the unique rich regional nature
of our built environment, encapsulated
in a relatively small land mass.
However, since the introduction of the
Town and Country Planning Act, 1947,
this has been severely damaged. By
definition, planning is “to make a plan;
devise methods of doing”. It would
be good if we could say that we have
built what we have because of town
planning, but unfortunately we have
done so despite, not because of, this
flawed system.
Style needs to be appropriate for
form and function. You cannot have
a thatched airport or an oak-framed
block of flats. The Vale of Rheidol
is an operational steam railway and
part of our industrial past, and hence
a significant tourist attraction. The
narrow-gauge steam museum in
Aberystwyth will be formed by the
re-erection of the 1850 London Bridge
station roof. Unlike the creativity
exercised at St Pancras, this significant
heritage asset was intended to be
scrapped to make way for a particularly
grim replacement. But although the USA
has got London Bridge, Wales will have
London Bridge Roof. The new buildings
will follow the industrial aesthetic of
the 1850 to 1900 period, employing
Great Western Railway design in the
manner of Isambard Kingdom Brunel.
Sadly, only a cursory nod is given to
the study of the historical built form
in architectural training. Students of
architecture and town planning are
taught that they have a role as social
engineers and directors of taste.
Architectural training has clung to the
theories of the Bauhaus, the machine
aesthetic and the early 20th-century
modernists. Our tutors deified Le
Corbusier and his book
Vers une
architecture
, which gave rise to the
utopian dream of residential towers
in a park. All we saw instead was
the suppression of the individual.
This persistent worship at the altar of
modernism by architects and town
planners has resulted in misery or
worse for tens of thousands, trapped
in multistorey ghettos.
Hever Castle
Military Museum
Vale of Rheidol Railway,
Aberystwyth
Sadly, only a
cursory nod is
given to the
study of the
historical built
form in
architectural
training
23STEPHEN LANGER ARCHITECTS |
CONSTRUCTION & ENGINEERING
Buildings fit for people
The burnt-down Granville Hotel site in
Bexhill-on-Sea was an unattractive hole
in the town centre for many years, with
several unbuildable consents created by
planning inertia. We wanted a humane
building with a sense of fun. Enjoying
the irony that modernism is just
another historical style, we designed
South Beach Apartments in the playful
seaside aesthetic of art deco.
Reaching for light and view, the
flats have at least one balcony large
enough for a table and chairs. Planning
was approved unanimously by local
politicians despite their conservation
officer’s objections to style in a town
where there are very few buildings of
any style, and their planning officer’s
objections to height. The series
Yes
Minister
may depict an ongoing
struggle at Westminster, but it’s a
struggle that’s generally lost at local
level, where politicians dance to the
tune of theirbureaucrats.
Designing a house is a great pleasure
and responsibility that should place
the expectations and lifestyle of the
person who will live there above all
else. Walking round Le Corbusier’s
Villa Savoye in France, one is overcome
by the crude industrialised savagery
of his architecture. It lacks any sense
of humanity, human scale or history
and is falling to pieces after less than
90 years. Modernis m was effectively a
burning of the history books. To build
a country manor, we drew from the
true international style of classicism
in the domestic tradition. Built from
locally sourced materials, the house has
four symmetrical but different façades
that are set off by a composition of
house, outbuildings, walled gardens
and an oast house. Construction in
this manner supports and preserves a
multitude of local trades and skills.
We and other proponents of traditional
and humane architecture have gone
some way to redress the balance in the
battle against the edifice of mediocrity
created by planning and modernism.
We’re all fascinated by advances in
design and technology, as we are by a
stunning piece of modern art. This does
not mean we want to take it home
or, in the case of a building, live in it.
Architects and planners should not
unilaterally determine what is right and
wrong for the people who are affected
by their work. They, like us, need to
listen and take note. Architecture
should aim to do more than just please
and delight; it should also serve.
Designing a
house is a great
pleasure and
responsibility
that should
place the
expectations
and lifestyle of
the person who
will live there
above all else
South Beach Apartments

www.stephenlanger.co.uk

This article was sponsored by Stephen Langer Architects. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it. The publication in which this article originally appeared contained the following foreword from Rt Hon Michael Gove.

Rt Hon Michael Gove's Foreword For The Parliamentary Review

By Rt Hon Michael Gove

This year's Parliamentary Review comes at a momentous time for parliament, as we collectively determine the destiny of the United Kingdom. 

On October 31, the UK will leave the European Union. The successful implementation of this process is this government's number-one priority.

Three years after a historic referendum vote, we will deliver on the decisive mandate from the British people. Trust in our democracy depends on it. Until that final hour, we will work determinedly and diligently to negotiate a deal, one that abolishes the backstop and upholds the warm and close relationship we share with our friends, allies and neighbours in the EU. But in the event that the EU refuses to meet us at the table, we must be prepared to leave without a deal.

As the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, it is my job to lead on this government's approach, should that scenario happen. Preparing for Brexit is my department's driving mission. But while I am leading this turbocharged effort, the whole of government is committed to this endeavour.

Ministers across Whitehall are working together to ensure that every possibility is considered, every plan is scrutinised and every provision is made. A daily drumbeat of meetings means that we are holding departments accountable, so that preparations are completed on time.

The chancellor has confirmed that all necessary funding will be made available. And we have mobilised thecivil service, assigning 15,000 of our most talented civil servants to manage our exit from the EU.

We will make sure that on November 1, there is as little disruption to national life as possible. Our trade relationships will continue to thrive, thanks to agreements with countries around the world worth £70 billion. Our country will remain secure, thanks to nearly 1,000 new officers posted at our borders. And the 3.2 million EU nationals now living and working among us can remain confident, with absolute certainty, of their right to remain in the UK.

Above all, our goal is to be transparent. Soon, we will launch a public information campaign so that citizens, communities and businesses are ready and reassured about what will happen in the event of “no deal”.

In my first few weeks in this role, I have travelled to ports and tarmacs, borders and bridges, all across the UK –from the seaside of Dover to the rolling green hills of County Armagh. I have heard from business owners and border officials, farmers and hauliers. They are ready to put an end to uncertainty. And they are ready to embrace the opportunities ahead.

Our departure from the EU will be a once in a lifetime chance to chart a new course for the United Kingdom. Preparing for that new course will be a herculean effort. But this country has made astounding efforts before. We can do it again.
Rt Hon Michael Gove
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster