Short Wood Primary SchoolWelcome to Raven Manor – The Home of Robert Bamford’s RavenDesign on the Web

I work in the field of architecture and RavenDesign has been a sort of online persona for me since the late 1990s. The purpose of Raven Manor is to rationalise and consolidate my experience and activities onto one personal web site. On the About page you’ll find my personal statement that gives information about my experience in architecture whilst the Portfolio page links to a selection of projects that I have been involved in. The RavenDesign blog is a collection of thoughts, images and articles on the subject of modernist design and homes. Finally, there is the Raven Manor Home Design Shop, a specially-selected collection of books and products to help create a comfortable and functional modernist home.

Why Raven Manor?

Although my taste in architecture and design tends towards the modernist, I have always been interested in the idea of a manor. A manor was the lowest element of territorial organisation within the feudal system and at its heart was, of course, the manor house which formed the administrative centre of the manor. The lord of the manor lived in this house and was responsible for the continued upkeep of his land and property. What fascinates me about all this is that a well-run manor would have been self-sufficient and would have provided for everyone in that manor in terms of shelter, water, food and fuel. Obviously, much of the proceeds of the land, both produce and financial, went into maintaining the manor house itself and keeping the lord and his family in the manner to which they had become accustomed but a similar model of self-sufficiency has started to creep back into the public conscience recently. Television programmes such as Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage advocate the benefits of the self-sufficient life of the smallholder that had previously been the stuff of situation comedy legend in The Good Life. Additionally, sustainable architecture has been exploring the idea of a house generating its own power using renewable sources such as photovoltaic cells and wind turbines as well as harvesting rainwater and reusing grey water. This approach can also be taken on housing estates with larger renewable sources, district heating plants and the like which, to my eyes, is moving towards the modern equivalent of a manor. As any National Trust member will tell you, though, a badly-run manor spelled ruin for any lord who got carried away with his own spending and had to sell off portions of his land to pay off debts. Clearly, this had an effect on the long-term sustainability of the manor where less land gave less proceeds and there are many cases of the manor house and its estate being the only remaining part of the manor. The lord was then forced to live in whatever part of the house wasn’t leaking, moving from room to room as more and more of the house fell into disrepair.

Whilst many people’s view of modernism is that it is simply a style, it actually started as an idealist movement in the early 20th century. Maybe the new ideal of carbon-neutrality combined with learning lessons from the past will keep it active through the 21st.



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