Saturday 28 February 2015

Knowle relocation project: "How buildings sit in their landscape"

The Building Design website recently put the obvious point that buildings are placed in a context:
How buildings sit in their landscape | Opinion | Building Design

The Building Centre in London has just put on an exhibition in London:

Rethinking the Urban Landscape argues the case to commit investment to 'green infrastructure' in the early stages of city and regeneration planning. Curated by The Building Centre and the Landscape Institute, the exhibition sets out to show that with long-term landscape planning cities can become healthier, safer and happier places to be - from reduced risk of flooding, to countering the ‘invisible killer’ of bad air quality, to weaving more enjoyable and inspiring environments throughout the urban fabric.

Six ways city landscapes can be more flood resilient - in pictures | Cities | The Guardian

An important influence on landscape design has been Japanese notions of art:
Wabi-sabi - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Japanese garden design might seem a million miles away from Sidmouth, but an observer has sent in this comment:

"Orientalism became popular in the 1860s onward which accounts for the increased exoticism of many gardens. The verandah arrangement connecting the interior with the lawns could be described as oriental. 

Savills UK | The Knowle | Development | To Buy

"In Japan the engawa links the inside and outside, and this inbetween space is known as ma. Another key Japanese garden elements is “Shakkei” which is borrowed landscape, ie view to the sea through the trees as if an extension of the park. 

East Devon Council headquarters go on sale | Western Morning News

"Finally we have the Gingkyo Tree which is an ancient Japanese symbol which is said to have survived the Hiroshima H bomb!

Vision Group for Sidmouth - A new plaque for the historic ginkgo in the Knowle park

So, how does the Knowle in Sidmouth sit in its landscape?

Kowle Aerial

Futures Forum: Knowle relocation project: "The great garden grab"

A substantial area of the original parkland remains, containing some magnificent trees particular specimens of cedar, Wellingtonia and Monterey pine. These mature trees are covered by a TPO made in 1956 by Sidmouth Urban District Council, which gives protection to the most important trees on the site. 
The parkland of The Knowle forms part of the attractive approach to Sidmouth, providing an important contribution to the overall historic character and landscape of the town. In this respect the development proposed would have a significant detrimental effect upon the setting of the conservation area and views into and out of it.

Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian grounds: Devon Gardens Trust

The following references are from the notes which accompanied the original application to English Heritage to list Knowle:

Knowle is cited in several sources as one of the most significant sites in Sidmouth, with a notable history:

> The renowned Devon historian W G Hoskins (of ‘The Making of the English Landscape’) gives pre-eminence to Knowle as the first cottage ornée in Sidmouth in his ‘History of Devon.’

> The site features a long history, very much associated with the character of Sidmouth: ‘Knowle has long been one of the best loved sites in Sidmouth. Commanding a beautiful view of the sea, the site off Station Road was originally named Marine Villa...’ 

> The private house was to become a fine hotel, with the Mates Illustrated Sidmouth from 1902 praising Knowle’s special location: ‘This lovely and luxurious hotel was not always what it is to-day, though, broadly speaking, the beauties of the surroundings have not, even were is possible, been improved upon. It occupies one of the most Charming sites in the county, and commands extensive views of woodland and rustic scenery upon the one hand, and ravishing glimpses of the sea on the other, which it would be difficult to equal, much less to surpass in our quarter of the globe.’ 


Knowle has contributed significantly to the townscape of Sidmouth:

> It enjoys an impressive relationship of building to setting; apart from the replacement of some of the rearward buildings, the layout of the building and grounds of Knowle Hotel has not changed significantly:

> Maps from 1889 and 1934 confirm the way in which the character of the mature parkland has endured. 

> Aerial photography from the 1920s/30s and today indicate that the layout of the grounds and the density of trees have changed remarkably little.

> Similarly, close-up photography from the 1930s and today show that the gardens have remained largely intact, enjoying a continuity of design and appearance – with the original layout and planting of the 1840s gardens, as well as against the impressive façade of the original 1880s/90s Hotel building. 

The Knowle grounds are immediately adjacent to the East Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty:

> In its heyday, visitors arriving from the railway along Station Road would have been impressed by the ‘green approach’ to Knowle: ‘The drive to and from the Station to the Hotel is most charming, being through an avenue of pink and white chestnut trees, planted alternately, and everywhere shrubs are to be seen growing with that luxuriance which is so typical of the Sidmouth climate.’  Today this same route winds past the Manor Park which lies in the AONB; it seems, then, that the landscape down to the Knowle parkland and beyond has changed very little for over a century. 

> However, proposals to build in the Knowle car parks in the lower part of the grounds, which are visible from the main road approach, threaten this historic vista. 

> Current maps indicate the close proximity of Knowle to the East Devon AONB. , as does aerial photography. EDDC’s own regulatory framework requires that proximity to AONB be taken into account: ‘The policy stipulates that development will only be permitted within or adjacent to the East Devon AONB where it conserves or enhances the landscape character of the area, respects traditional local built forms and complies with policies on development in the countryside.’ 

> The mature trees of the former Manor Park, across the leafy Broadway road which divides the Park from Knowle to the north, are protected under the same TPO order of 1956 which nominally protects the mature trees of Knowle; today, the trees of Manor Park lie within the AONB and will be of a similar age to many specimens in the Knowle parkland. 

Futures Forum: Knowle: Victorian hotel and grounds ... application to English Heritage for national listing

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