By Tom Rigden
Photography Brotherton Lock
Modern house: a very British take on the International style
With its rural setting in the rolling moorland of West Yorkshire, just above the village of Farnley Tyas, Modern house Farnley Hey provides a refreshing contrast to the grey stone buildings more typical of this landscape. One of the great British Modernist homes still in existence, Farnley Hey was designed in 1954 by Peter Womersley, an architect who succeeded in applying a British twist to the International style of architecture. This was his first residential project in the UK and it has been well documented thanks to its former occupant, the charismatic engineer Joe Battye. Resident from 1959, until his death in 2010, he succeeded in drawing many of those with an interest in Modern design to his home, including Danish Master Arne Jacobsen. This Modern house received a Grade II listing in 1998, ensuring its protection for the future.
Modern house: the interior of Farnley Hey
Farnley Hey was built around a large open plan living area: wooden paneled ceilings, pale lilac-coloured brick work, dark marble lintels and limestone feature walls all give the rooms a uniquely warm and inviting feel. Black slate flagstone floors were sourced locally from a disused mill, and their lacquered finish mirrors the light and airy atmosphere in this generous space. Light pours in from the double-height windows, which stretch along the south side of the building, providing stunning panoramic views over the surrounding valley. RIBA awarded the building a bronze medal in 1957, and the plaque remains mounted proudly beside the front door.
Modern house: cutting-edge technology
Joe Battye’s passion for good architecture was matched by a passion for beautifully designed furniture. He filled his house with original pieces by the likes of Peter Hvidt, Nana Ditzel and the aforementioned Arne Jacobsen. His engineering background enabled him to add some cutting-edge technology to create a truly modern house, namely kitchen taps that poured ready-boiled water, one of the first microwaves in Britain, and curtains constructed from a NASA-developed material that reflects heat from the sun.
To view the full set of commissioned photographs of Farnley Hey, take a look at MidCentury issue 05
Enjoyed this? Then check out our article on British Modern masterpiece The Homewood
Click here for more information on Architect Peter Womersley
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