With its low, pared-down, glass-enclosed design, and leafy English countryside setting, Capel Manor House in Kent offered the ideal atmosphere for our 'A Private View' fashion shoot (March 2013 issue - out now).
Reminiscent of some of Mies van der Rohe's most iconic works, the main house was designed by celebrated British architect Michael Manser (also the founder of the coveted RIBA Manser Medal) in 1971. Lovingly looked after, the house today is the country home of television producer and entrepreneur Remy Blumenfeld, who bought the modern glass-and-steel structure in 1999.
The scenery is captivating. The house sits on the arcaded raised grounds of what used to be an Italianate mansion, once connected to Jane Austen's family, which was demolished in 1969. A verdant garden surrounds the low-slung pavilion and a guest pavilion, designed by Glasgow-based Ewan Cameron Architects, was recently added to the raised platform area.
The new structure references the glass envelope and clean lines of the original Manser building. It holds two bedroom suites and sits about 50 yards from the main house on the same raised plateaux, next to an orangerie engulfed in foliage.
'I am very passionate about 20th Century glass and steel residential modernist homes so the opportunity to develop this typology a bit further was like a dream come true,' says Ewan Cameron. 'The symmetry and order of Capel Manor House seemed to call for a building with the same considerations but with a twist.'
Drawing additional inspiration from the simplicity of Japanese temples, Cameron worked with engineers David Narro Associates to create a simple, elegant structure with a lightweight zinc-clad, 'floating' roof. 'Having been taken on a walk around the incredible estate grounds, it felt natural that the new pavilion should be an "event" in the landscape in contrast to the existing house which acts as a central, focal point,' continues the architect. 'This led to the pavilion being rotated in relation to the main axis of the Manser house and podium, and to the formation of a central open walkway allowing the visitor to pass through the building without entering it.'
A simple palette of concrete and walnut wood keeps the interiors minimal and sophisticated, while the bedrooms open up to a paved terrace that offers views out towards the serene nature.
The shoot took place at Capel Manor House by kind permission of Remy Blumenfeld and Henryk Hetflaisz. All sculptures by Helaine Blumenfeld OBE.