Bricks • Mortar • Imagination • Words

Introduction - Embassy Court

Embassy Court, originally an elegant modernist block of flats on the Brighton/Hove seafront, was built in 1935 by Canadian architect, Wells Coates, famous for designing the bakelite wireless cabinet. Once a glamorous celebrity hangout, where the yearly rental of a three bedroom flat cost more than the outright purchase of a house in the suburbs, Embassy Court is now in a striking state of disrepair. Outwardly a derelict rusting hulk, yet the building is still inhabited by many residents. Its Grade 1 listing acknowledges its historical importance as one of the country's first slip-formed reinforced concrete structures and allows enthusiasts to hope that it might one day yet be restored to its former glory. Award winning poet and short story writer Ros Barber, a resident of one of the houses immediately behind Embassy Court, is one of those enthusiasts.

Despite her clear passion for the building, Ros was advised by the freeholders midway through the project that they could not accept it was a fit subject for poetry - "unless it was written on ***** paper". Her sequence of seven sonnets envisioning the history of the building as the rise and demise of a beautiful woman suggest otherwise. Attempts during Architecture Week to exhibit the poems as work in progress were abandoned after the same freeholders flatly refused permission, overruling a previous authorisation given by the estate agents representing the property.

Arts Council England
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