As I said before (here), my opinion that the roof is more important than the wall in the rural landscape of Norfolk was based in no small part on hours spent gazing out of train windows on the Norwich to London main-line. Just south of Stowmarket, off to the east, is a prominent group of large pan-tiled roofs dotted with roof-lights, unmistakeably modern but nonetheless nestling happily into a cloak of semi-mature trees. Earlier this summer I finally got round to investigating, on my way down to see Clay Fields in Elmswell (which I will talk about later). It was well worth a detour…
At the end of a dead-end lane are four L-shaped groups of houses, each using the neighbouring group and a screen wall on the street to define a gravelled courtyard. The courtyards appear to have been built as separate phases over a number of years, and the screen wall in the first group is clearly quite old. The buildings are almost all roof. A generally rather low eave above the black weather-boarded ground floor swoops down at the entrances to below eye-level; I could imagine reaching out to pat the warm clay tiles in the summer. The position of the Velux windows reveals that the large steeply pitched roofs in some places contain two attic storeys. The southern-most courtyard, the earliest I guess, and most attractive, is a gravelled ‘shared-surface’ (a single undifferentiated zone used by pedestrians and cars) with a number of mature birch trees lending a somewhat ‘Scandic’ feel.
Whilst taking these photos I was accosted by a resident, a common event for an architectural tourist, and a good indication that a neighbourhood or development is well-liked and cared for. She was quite proud to tell me that the schemes had been designed by Needham-based Pat Bellay, from the mid-1980s onward.
Of course Crown Paddock also stands as an exemplar of my fourth rural archetype the ‘farmstead’: the buildings are dense, rectilinear and define a series of (very attractive) courtyards. More on contemporary ‘farmsteads’ here. More big roofs here.