"To me the dominating factor in layout design is the creation of space...visual space and functional space."

Eric Lyons

Having worked for Walter Gropius and Maxwell Fry, Eric Lyons (1912-1980) co-founded the development company Span in 1948, along with Geoffrey Townsend and Leslie Bilsby.


Lyons Span houses were typified by sharp Modernist designs and are all about space and light, and blurring the edges between outside and indoor space. The spaces between the buildings are not left to chance; this integrated design approach leads to a cohesive outcome where the buildings help to create the settings and the settings enhance the buildings.


Lavishly landscaped communal gardens were also a common feature of Lyons’s designs and he paid great respect to the surrounding landscape, designing and building properties around existing splendid mature trees and creating communal areas that encourage residents to mix.


An early Span publication summarises the origin of the name: “It spans the gap between the suburban monotony of the typical ‘spec building’ and the architecturally designed individually built residence.”


Outside of his Span work, Lyons carried out a number of other schemes, including public housing for World’s End in Chelsea. He was president of the RIBA from 1975 to 1977.



“Ever wished you lived somewhere where a sense of community still existed, where kids could play safely outside, and neighbours were friends, not strangers?


Well, places like this do exist: they’re called Span developments.”


Grand Designs Magazine

Feature on Span

March 2005

Screen Shot 2015-03-30 at 10.19.40 news_oct07_ivor