Azara Blog: Frinton-on-Sea has lots of modernist houses

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Date published: 2005/04/10

Frinton-on-Sea is a bizarre little seaside town, stuck in a bit of a 1960s time warp, and looking little more than a retirement village this time of year. The beach is nothing special (it does not even exist at high tide) but there is a long line of beach huts squashed in one next to the other (and sometimes three or four rows deep), in typical English seaside style. But what Frinton has that marks it out more than most English towns is a large collection of modernist houses (see The Bauhaus, modernism & domestic architecture, not dated explicitly but seemingly from 2001, so now getting old in some of the observations about the houses in their current state):

(and supposedly there is one at 16 Warley Way).

The architect Oliver Hill was the inspiration for the entire collection, starting in 1933. But he quit after the appointment of Tomkins Homer and Ley as the estate agents in 1935. (And many other famous modernist architects backed out early on as well for other reasons.)

And unfortunately most of these houses are not brilliant. Mainly because most of them have very little garden, and modernist houses need a bit of space to breathe. And they are surrounded by houses built in the usual English style, which looks jarring (again, that would not have been so bad if there had actually been any space in between the houses).

The house that looked the most loved was 4 Audley Way, which has been very sympathetically renovated recently (certainly since the time when the Bauhaus, etc., article was written, since the photo of the house in that article looks very different from what it looks like today).

Oh, and not far from Frinton, Norman Foster's early (1971-1975) building, Willis, Faber and Dumas, in Ipswich, is wonderful, but you can see why most people photograph it at night (the rest of the area does not do it justice, and the best views are into the sun).

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