Now defunct as a plan and replaced by a classical house, designed by Robert Adam, this version of Grafton Hall designed by Ushida Findlay caused a few architectural waves when it was first shown to the public. The world’s press gathered at the exclusive Hempel and we were fortunate enough to have been invited along and to produce the animations and visuals for the event.
RIBA proudly announced the design as the country house of the future and it was welcomed by many, as a possible beginning for contemporary luxury mansion house design in the UK. Unfortunately no one wanted to buy it even though it was passed at planning under the then new PPG7 guidelines. The house was to cost an estimated £20m but as the price tag suggests it was never to work commercially. Perhaps on the Californian coast, but not in Cheshire.
Kathryn Findlay said she believed Britain’s elite were less open to radical architecture than her clients abroad. “It’s sad that we never got to build the house but I often think new ideas take time to become accepted. When the designs for Grafton Hall first came out, the Emir of Qatar immediately asked me to build something similar for his wife. Maybe the establishment in Britain like something that looks more recognisably like a country house.”
The site was eventually bought from the Ferrario Burns Hood consortium by Martyn Weaver, a banker. Rather than sell the estate once it is built, Mr Weaver is said to be intending to move into Grafton Hall with his family. Robert Adam, the architect, said: “My client made the commonsense choice. Survey after survey has shown that people prefer to live in traditional buildings and not in architectural experiments.”