High Sunderland A Structure

by Rob Meek (meek)

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Work in progress …

Planning only to track down some bugs in the FontStructor, I was suddenly struck by similarities between the random shapes I was placing on the canvas and images I had stumbled upon recently on the web – I think it was in this article in the Guardian.

The images were of Peter Womersley’s modernist design for “High Sunderland”, fashion designer Bernat Klein’s erstwhile home, near Selkirk in Scotland. I wasn’t at first drawn to the modernism, but to the promised description of the experience of living in a house which was visually so open to the outside world – although ultimately the article wasn’t especially enlightening on that point. Later I found more extensive sources of images of the building on the web.

Working on this was the first time in quite a few years that I have been possessed by my own, earnest FontStructing rush. I was very pleased to find that the FontStructor tool still works as well and simply as it ever did – allowing for a uniquely swift and unimpeded creative progress through a set of modular glyphs.

The basic grid for each letter, based on the characteristic modules of the building, is topped by a slightly heavier bar and so slightly asymmetrical in the vertical, like the structure of High Sunderland itself, but it is essentially square and consists of six parallel horizontal bars.

In the FontStruction, the emphasis is on these crossbars – with every effort made to avoid partial horizontals and additional vertical lines, especially for the basic latin alphabet. The font is essentially unicase, with some variants in the lower case.

At one point I noticed that there are some window panels in High Sutherland which do have a single, thinner vertical divider (for sliding open presumably) so I used this for the middle legs of the M and W. After completing the initial FontStruction I also noticed in photographs of the building that there is at least one window with multiple vertical subdividers, so maybe that can form the basis for a new grid and a new FontStruction (High Sutherland B).

Things started to get fun for me when I got into the punctuation and accented letters. I saw no alternative to adding additional verticals for the hash, the percentage sign and some other glyphs.

I really like the percentage sign, although I’m not sure how legible it is – but I guess ultimately that it is an issue with the whole font.

When it came to glyphs with unavoidable diagonals – such as the slash glyphs – I went for a stepped approach, which I think is basically a good one, maintaining the emphasis on horizontal lines, and suggestive of musical notation – but the steps are a bit sloppy. I probably need to revisit them.

I’m not sure about applications for this FontStruction. Maybe it would be useful to someone intending to erect their own mid-modernist dwelling in the hills, or to someone planning to put up some new shelves!


Phew! I thought you were going to participate in the FutureComp, Boss!, what a relief. Out of jokes, very interesting approach and description to the processing work you've do. This kind of invaluable typographic personal comments surprises and glads to me, thanks a million. Long life FS!
Comment by elmoyenique 2nd may 2020
Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020
Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020

@elmo. Gracias Jefe! I wouldn’t have a chance in the FutureComp, even though I do know the judges ;-)

Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020

@meek: Why my post appears before your samples? Some residual consequences caused by the FutureComp?

Comment by elmoyenique 2nd may 2020

Note sure exactly what happened there. I think I may have deleted your comment by mistake – I certainly had to recreate it – and then for some reason it appeared where it is – maybe something to do with timezones. Weird.

Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020

Attractive design and faithful to the building's neat architecture. The accents look quite big... This is how I would do them and the punctuation:

Comment by V. Sarela (Yautja) 2nd may 2020

Thanks @Yautja. The suggestions are excellent. I will think about them.

Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020

The architect’s journal is actually the best online source of images, as far as I can see, but there is a paywall so you only get to open the page it once.

Comment by Rob Meek (meek) 2nd may 2020

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