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High and Over

In 1929 in what is now High Over Park, the famous High & Over House was built.

Picture Courtesy of Ian Halley
Designed by Connell in the Modernist style High & Over was built for Professor Bernard Ashmole by Watson's of Ascot.

Picture Courtesy of Ian Halley
High & Over is built in the shape of a "Y". Whether it is an urban myth or not I'm not sure, but I have been told that High and Over during World War II had to be camouflaged as the distinctive shape of the house gave directions to German bombers on their routes to their targets in Britain.
Keith Watson, who's Grandfather ran the firm Watson's of Ascot which built High and over has provided the follwoing artyicle written by Dennis Sharp and Sally Rendel on the contruction of the hosue.

Connell planned to pour the house in reinforced concrete using recyclable metal shuttering in order to demonstrate that this was ‘an economical method of construction and had a great future’.  The larger firms of contractors pioneering the use of this construction method were generally not interested in the relatively small scale of this domestic scheme.  The client was forced to accept the tender of Messrs Watson of Ascot who had recently built Epsom grandstand but had limited experience in reinforced concrete construction.  A less enterprising construction of concrete frame with brick and block infill was therefore adopted.  John Winter, the architect who has had a large hand in refurbishing the house in recent years, has recognised similarities between this construction method and that used by Andre Lurcat at Villa Guggenbuhl, completed in 1927, overlooking the Parc Montsouris in Paris. It was also the same method employed by Le Corbusier at the Villa Savoye at Poissy (1928-1929).  The rendering to the outside of the houses, like cake icing, gave a uniformity to the exterior finish, but it must have irked Connell that this seamless skin misrepresented the construction materials it shrouded.

Construction of High and Over
Picture Courtesy of Keith Watson
Building High and Over

Nevertheless even this hybrid construction  method was a groundbreaking use of concrete in England, as, according to Architect and Building News in November 1931, High and Over was ‘one of the first examples in England of reinforced concrete frame construction applied to domestic architecture’.  The frame, at roughly 8 foot centres and spanning approximately 16 feet gave the architect greater freedom than traditional load bearing construction in the size and regularity of the openings for windows and doors.  The rhythm of this frame is most clearly expressed on the south elevation at ground level where it regularly interrupts the otherwise continuous ribbon of Corbusian fenetres en longeuse, their  metal frames painted black in a similar facade treatment to Le Corbusier’s  Paris houses -  Maison La Roche et Jeanneret, 1923, and Maison Cook, 1926.

The Water Tower and High and Over
Picture Courtesy of Keith Watson
The Water Tower at High and Over

 The oriel window on  the south-east  wing of High and Over can be read as a modern interpretation of the architecture of English country houses, but it is also formally extremely similar to the bay window at Lurcat’sat Villa Guggenbuhl, and the earlier Villa Besnus at Veaucresson by Le Corbusier of 1922-23.

The build, as any construction project, had its hiccups. With such an unconventional project, many new materials were used to varying degrees of success, causing stresses for the architect and his client.  Ashmole later remembered that the original external render, Astroplax, which was slightly translucent and therefore had a fine ivory-like appearance, actually contained water soluble gypsum that washed away in the rain and had to be replaced with a waterproof alternative.

 High and Over almost at the end of construction
Picture Courtesy of Keith Watson
High and Over almost at the end of construction

Highover Park
High Over Park (above), leading to the famous High & Over House.

Picture Courtesy of Ian Halley
The original house was joined shortly after by similar "Sun Houses". When the houses were built they were in the open with fine views over the Misbourne valley. Since then trees and vegetation have grown around the houses. High and Over has appeared on several TV programmes, and was the centre stage of an LWT produced Poirot
Sun House
Picture Courtesy of Ray Tomlins
Above is one of the later "Sun Houses". The houses caused much interest, John Betjeman, a supporter of Metroland, said the ocean liner style and stark outlines "scandalized all Buckinghamshire", but he became a fan of them. A writer in "Countryside" compared them with "the flat white houses of the Mediterranean and ultimately with lucid and practical ideals of classical civilisation".

Picture Courtesy of Ray Tomlins
Another view of a Sun House.

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