Monday, March 09, 2020

Along Pill Creek, Feock, Cornwall

Artist Alasdair Lindsay’s acrylic on board painting of Creek Vean. Paintings and prints available from his website.

Since the modernist house Creek Vean was built in the mid-1960s, many other similar-looking buildings in the area have cropped up, leading the Cornish Buildings Group to recently comment "Pill Creek has become home to a series of iconic or semi-iconic modernist houses".

Creek Vean was designed by Team 4, which consisted of architects Richard Rogers and his wife Su, and Norman Foster and his wife Wendy. Built between 1964-1966, it was designed for Su's parents. Creek Vean incorporates ideas Rogers and Foster, two young architects at the time, had learnt at Yale School of Architecture, where they had met. The building shows the influence of Frank Lloyd Wright with its flow of movement and the bold structure nestling nicely into the hillside. Its large windows have fine views of the Fal estuary.

It's hard to know exactly what each member of Team 4 actually did, but it's Su Rogers who connects Creek Vean to another nearby house: in 1973-4 John Millar and Su designed Pillwood House, which was awarded Grade II listed status in 2017. Funnily enough, Pilwood House actually looks more like a Richard Rogers building and Creek Vean more like a John Millar – a joke I had, as you do, with an elderly architect outside Creek Vean (I knew he was an architect because he wore Le Corbusier glasses).

The most recent addition to the area is Sylvania House, designed by Truro-based Kast Architects, and awarded a commendation by the Cornish Buildings Group in their 2019 Awards. A stunning five-bedroom cantilevered family home, it features the upper part of the house at a dramatic 90 degrees to the lower half. The building is sympathetic to its woodland surroundings and, again, has a hint of Frank Lloyd Wright.
Many of the buildings on the hillside along Phil Creek look down upon the estuary; some of the houses, including Creek Vean, lead directing down to the water. The whole area around Feock is beautiful, peaceful and relaxing. There are no shops or traffic. It feels very exclusive. Indeed, nearby Restronguest Point is the richest part of Cornwall (and third richest in the south west), with every house costing way over £1m – in estate agent speak, 'one of the most desirable waterside addresses in Britain'.

The Friends of Restronguest Point website gives useful advice on how to construct a Cornish hedge – with preference given to the local style of hedge, of course. It goes on to list all the listed buildings in the area of Feock, finding 78 of them, an extraordinary amount, it seemed to me, for a tiny village.

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