A new addition to our small architectural reference library is this book, 50 Modern Bungalows, published in 1955 by The Architectural Press, London. Other titles from The Architectural Press include The Modern House, The New Small House and The Modern Flat.
Derived from the Gujarati term ‘bangalo’ and meaning ‘a low house in the Bengal style’, the word bungalow has been rather out of favour in recent times being supplanted by terms like ‘single storey dwelling’ and ‘low rise living’. Then there is the tired and not very good joke: How do you finish a small house? Bung a low roof on it.
Featured in the book is this single storey home at Ham Common, Surrey, just across the common from the 1954 Eric Lyons’ Span development, Parkleys, where I live. Designed in 1954 by the architect Stefan Buzas of Cubitt & Partners, it was built as his own family home. His work is quite prominent in the area; there is also the later two storey New House situated on Church Road, adjacent to Parkleys. This house features a sloping roof with the living room situated on the first floor. There are calls for New House and Buzas’ own home to be listed, however, sadly the two storey New House has had the original expansive Crittal windows replaced by the ubiquitous uPVC.
Overall, this little book serves to inform us that the much derided bungalow we envisage today was once a forward thinking architectural solution to modern housing issues. This form of housing became diluted by the developer and local council, reducing the idea of single storey living to retirement homes.