A declaration: this one is personal.
Decay has a certain beauty, but when it is associated with a mid-20th century architectural masterpiece it brings only sadness. The photo above is but a detail of the Grade 'A' listed Klein Studio that sits in wooded parkland between Galashiels and Selkirk in the Scottish Borders. Unfortunately, it is also "Buildings at Risk" registered.
Commissioned by textile designer Bernat Klein and designed by renowned 20th Century British architect Peter Womersley, completed in 1972, it was the recipient of awards and plaudits for its innovation and design. It sits below the hill on which the Klein family home was built, itself a Womersley designed, Grade 'A' listed building dating from 1958.
Even as a child, I thought the spaces created by Womersley were magical.
My parents were close friends of both Peter Womersley and Bernat and Margaret Klein. To have visited their homes, to have grown up with the fierce intelligence and cultural engagement that both Womersley and Klein brought to the table and to have had the privilege of their friendship and generosity, were gifts of lasting importance.
The Klein Studio reflects its setting,
the building sitting in its environment seamlessly. To this day, the reflections of the setting in the glass of the studio walls, and the sense of looking through the structure to the Borders countryside are thrilling.
Most of all, having experienced Womersley's and Klein's creative output as it happened has left me with a deep appreciation for the impact of good design in the best and broadest sense. This influence, preserved in the physical form of theses architectural works of art, should not be lost to future generations.
The Studio was sold by the Klein family in the 1990's.
Used then as the home of a local government - sponsored project to ameliorate a dependency of the Borders economy on a declining textile industry, it was in the early 2000's sold again, into private hands.
After an initial flurry of activity which sought planning permission to "repurpose" the studio as two flats, sInce then the Studio has languished, deteriorating rapidly in recent years, suffering flooding and consequent structural damage - and....
There has been a recent uptick of interest in Womersley's work. Professionals, academics, prominent representation in the 2015 year of Scottish architecture, tours, lectures, papers, university projects, Historic Environment Scotland, social media presence and so on. And still nothing.
Somewhere in all of this, a dialogue with the owner, an understanding of the difficulties and obstacles, a reexamination of the "repurposing", a sense of the possible is it seems to me, subjectively, to be missing. In short a place where all of these disparate threads of interest might find a simple collective expression of broad public concern that could lead to the shining of a little light onto this bleak picture.