Compelled to act
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. In late 2017, working with my cousin Michael Smith and Chris Hurst, an enthusiast and knowledgeable supporter of Peter’s work, we launched Preserving Womersley, a web-based initiative to raise awareness of the plight of the Klein Studio,
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.
In the intervening 18 months, as I write this in April, 2019, 350 followers later, two articles in The Times on the plight of the Studio, an appreciation of Womerlsey’s architecture published in the journal of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland, offers of support, contributions to the website and the generous engagement of the Klein and Womersley families, it is sad to report that there has been little done by the owner to remedy this awful situation.
So clearly the next phase of the effort will require a more activist approach if, in the estimation of Susan Hallsworth as quoted in the second Times article published in March 2019, the building is to be turned around in the critical next 10 years before it is no longer salvageable. That effort has begun. Follow the story, read the articles and receive regular updates by joining the Preserving Womersley effort here.
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. so this one is personal.
Here on my website, I have published a series of photos of his most important Scottish Borders work. Please browse through them to appreciate Peter’s genius from my point of view.