Professor of Architecture Richard Weston has designed, and this year begins building, Britain’s first digital art and crafts house.
“It will be” says Weston, “the flagship for a new way of making truly individual homes that respects, integrates and applies three very distinct paradigms: the infinite creative potential of nature; architectural and design traditions, including the Arts & Crafts Movement, but also Renaissance and Baroque aesthetic principles; and the very latest digital design and production techniques”.
“This is a house” he says “that could not even have been conceived, never mind built ten years ago”.
Designer and builder of the innovative and influential all-glass Radiant House, Weston is an award winning author (not least for his definitive work on Jorn Utzon, the architect of the Sydney Opera House), and here he is once more focusing on his true passion: nature and architecture.
Just as William Morris, in the design and decoration of his celebrated Red House, sought to raise decoration to the level of fine art, Richard is aiming to demonstrate the potential of new digital design and manufacturing techniques to enrich our lives.
Working in collaboration with skilled makers and leading manufacturers, he aims to infuse the entire house – from external brickwork to internal finishes, furniture to fittings, lamps to tableware – with details, patterns and colours that embody his passion for nature as a source of inspiration and enjoyment.
Despite the design reflecting his belief in ‘digitally reinventing’ historical models, he is braced for a barrage of criticism from a still largely decoration-averse architectural profession.
“In every civilization I know, buildings were decorated,’ he points out. ‘Today’s default setting for ‘proper’ architecture – bland, plain walls – may represent a quantum leap in human consciousness, but I prefer to see it as no more than a cul-de-sac in interior design.
“And you have to remember,” he says, “this house is being built in Wales, where walls are only washed with sun on about three days in the year!’