“A distinctive modern house designed by Lescaze in the mid-1930s”
Designed in 1933 by the acclaimed modernist architect and pioneer of the international style William Lescaze is this four-bedroom modern home in Devon. Set in a quiet, elevated position, it is just a few minutes’ walk from the sandy beaches and rockpools at Broadsands on the South Devon coastline. The interior living space extends to over 3,085 sq ft across three storeys, with far-reaching views from the upper levels and roof terrace, across the private gardens and out towards the sea. Replete with original character and features, the home offers an excellent opportunity for renovation.
William Edmond Lescaze (1896 – 1969) was born in Switzerland and educated in architecture in Geneva and Zurich under first-generation modernist Karl Moser. He moved to New York in 1920, where he established his own practice. He is most remembered as one of the pioneers of the international style in America. During a partnership with David Howe lasting until 1932, they designed the Philadelphia Saving Fund Society – the first modernist skyscraper in the United States. His work in England is concentrated in Devon, and there are nine listed buildings by the architect. For more information, please see the History section.
The house is set back from a quiet residential road by an expanse of south-west facing gardens; perched in an elevated position, the distinctive 1930s architectural profile strikes boldly against the skyline. A private driveway leads up to the garage; the primary entrance is on the southerly aspect.
A beautifully bright sunroom leads off the lobby, where expansive glazing optimises the excellent natural light, clay tiles run underfoot, and Crittall doors open directly onto the patio.
Fenestration runs the length of the south-east facing living room, inviting plenty of natural light through the day and framing views across the front gardens. The dining room is interconnected to create an easy flow through the ground floor, with a pair of glass doors providing access to the terrace. The kitchen is positioned on the westerly side of the house, alongside the utility space and ground floor bathroom.
Four well-proportioned bedrooms occupy the first floor, each with views across the gardens and surrounding landscape. The main bedroom has the original vanity unit, and the family bathroom has a shower and a bathtub.
Ascending to the second floor, the expansive roof terrace is accessed via the central landing room. Offering great potential, the roof terrace has excellent views across the rooftops and a snapshot of the sea views. The interior may require some updating throughout.
The extensive private gardens are laid to lawn, bordered by mature hedging to provide good privacy and plenty of sunny positions to enjoy eating and drinking outside. Herbaceous beds and borders provide colour and interest through the seasons, while specimen trees offer shade in the summer months. A greenhouse and raised beds support self-sufficient gardening, and there is also a natural pond. Conveniently, there is also a direct and flat route to the shops via a pathway accessed from the back of the house.
Broadsands has become a desirable residential area, with a good selection of nearby independent shops, cafes, restaurants, supermarkets and a library. There is easy access to the Southwest Coastal path, a quiet and peaceful national trail passing through country lanes, woodland and secluded coves from Broadsands to Churston Cove. Agatha Christie’s house, “Greenway”, is within a short cycle ride, as are the delightful English villages of Galmpton and Stoke Gabriel, whilst the facilities of Paignton, Torquay, and Totnes are a short drive away.
Positioned between Paignton and Brixham, Broadsands is a long stretch of sandy beaches and rockpools bordered by parkland. A short walk beyond Broadsands is Elberry Cove, reputedly Agatha Christie’s favourite beach and is mentioned in her novel ‘The ABC Murders’. The car ferry to Dartmouth is approximately a five-minute drive away, with a broader selection of shops and restaurants and a picturesque deep-water harbour.
The mainline stations in Totnes and Paignton provide direct services to Exeter St Davids and onward connections to London Paddington, with journey times of around three hours.
Council Tax Band: E
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The cluster of seven distinctive modern houses in the area, characterised by their concrete walls, flat roofs and unmoulded window openings, were designed by Lescaze in the mid-1930s as part of the Churston Ferrers Estate project; a collaboration between Dartington Hall Trust and Staverton Builders Ltd. It was an experimental housing development, and the largest of Staverton’s interwar estates in Devon. Lescaze, was employed as the principal architect of the scheme and the British architects, Colin Penn and Robert Henning were brought in to interpret Lescaze’s plans on site. The site plan was designed by Henry Wright and the landscape design was by Beatrix Farrand.
The houses are located on a sloping site and their arrangement along diagonal axes affords each house uninterrupted views of the sea from both the roof terrace and principal room. The estate was described in ‘Building’ in 1935 as ‘probably the most ambitious attempt to build a comprehensive modern scheme to a uniform style’. It was to include 500 houses, shops, petrol station, a hotel and a private lido and club. However, despite the ambition and innovation of the housing scheme of essentially rational modern architecture and community planning, it was never fully completed.