‘Things need to be ordinary and heroic at the same time’ – The Smithson’s
Alison and Peter Smithson designed the Upper Lawn Solar Pavilion in 1962 as a holiday home for themselves. Despite it being one of their smallest scale projects budget-and scale wise, it embraces many of their fundamental architectural ideas.
When the Smithson’s bought the plot of land in the 1950s, there was an old cottage standing there that was meant to be knocked down and it was in a bad state of repair. Instead of rebuilding the cottage, the architects superimposed their two storey design onto the remains of the stone walls of the old building. The juxtaposition of old and new elements are further strengthened by the new structure’s materiality; a wooden structure clad in metal and glass. Other design decisions aspects are emphasizing the contrasts; the old stone wall is serving as an internal space divider, a window that was once letting light into the old house has become a part of the new external courtyard – all very fascinating and well-judged architectural moves.