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Latitude: 51.7984 / 51°47'54"N
Longitude: -0.3605 / 0°21'37"W
OS Eastings: 513152
OS Northings: 212349
OS Grid: TL131123
Mapcode National: GBR H7P.CMT
Mapcode Global: VHFS1.P2S6
Entry Name: 44, West Common Way
Listing Date: 15 July 1998
Source: Historic England
Source ID: 1375673
English Heritage Legacy ID: 469649
Location: Harpenden, St. Albans, Hertfordshire, AL5
District: St. Albans
Civil Parish: Harpenden
Built-Up Area: Harpenden
Traditional County: Hertfordshire
Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Hertfordshire
Church of England Parish: Harpenden St John
Church of England Diocese: St.Albans
TL 11 SW HARPENDEN WEST COMMON WAY
Private house. 1961-3 by Povl Ahm for himself, from a design by Jorn Utzon. Extended 1972-4 by Ulrick Plesner in association with Christopher Beaver Associates. Aylesbury buff brick walls with reinforced concrete trusses supporting precast smooth surfaced concrete beams. Copper edge to shallow pitched roof. L-shaped plan with extension containing separate children's wing separating the house from the road. The main range a series of semi-open spaces on several levels.
Carport forms integral part of house with concrete beams visible and leads to front door. Teak mullions to the windows. Garden side elevation is entirely glazed, with irregularly spaced mullions and full-height glazing beneath continuous concrete beam, with coved copper edge to roof. Terrace with Swedish Hogamass white quarry tiles and changing levels. End garden elevation has projecting concrete beams and exposed truss of boardmarked concrete with glazing beneath. The 1972-4 wing presents a blank wall to the road and windows are in the buff brick wall to the garden, with continuous sloped clerestorey backing on to rear wall.
Interior has concrete beams visible throughout, running lengthways with two intermediate concrete trusses. Swedish Hogamass white quarry tiles throughout interior, including steps leading up to main living space, with further steps up to dining area with kitchen and bedrooms beyond. Brick chimneybreast incorporates part of concrete truss, with simple fireplace opening. Joinery details to standard designs from Utzon office, including sideboard/hatch unit between kitchen and dining area.
The house was designed for Povl Ahm, a Danish partner of Ove Arup who was working with Jorn Utzon on the Sydney Opera House at the time. When the site had been found, Utzon supplied a concept design which was adhered to in the finished house, although some changes were made in the structural system, notably the introduction of an intermediate truss for the concrete roof beams on the line of the fireplace. This was done to prevent the beams having to be too deep. The joinery details, kitchen fittings, etc. follow the pattern of the houses at Fredensborg, Denmark, which Utzon was designing at the time. The extension, at right angles, has no internal link to the original building and is a self-contained children/guest suite. Ulrick Plesner was an architect with Arup Associates at the time and is now a leading architect and planner in Israel. The result is a distinguished and beautifully detailed modern house, in the idiom of an important architect who built relatively little.
Country Life (17th March 1966) p608-10
Pevsner, N. and Cherry, B; The Buildings f England: Hertfordshire (1977) p158.
Listing NGR: TL1315212349
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