The South London home of steel

Visit Dulwich, and you’ll find brick homes. Dulwich village, which I visited recently for the Edward Bawden exhibition, even has a semi-rural feel to it. In short, when you’re walking about in this area you don’t expect to see a modern house made of steel, concrete, and a luminous thermoplastic.  And you don’t. The house is obscured from the street – nested in a central courtyard and former brickyard behind other houses. From the street you only see an unassuming metal gate.

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Kent’s Mid-century treasure

Whilst Gerald Beech is best known for the Liverpool house Cedarwood – a prototype for future estates that drew tens of thousands of visitors but never saw mass-production – the architect also built another gem on the other end of the country. Broadstairs, in Kent, is a mid-century time capsule.

Broadstairs, built in the early 60s, was created for a family downsizing from a large and ‘stiff’ 18th century manor. The brief was to create “a more manageable home which still retained a sense of space”. In ‘The Architect & Building News’ journal, a critic wrote of the high central ceiling:

“the extension of part of the living room through two floors has created a strong element of vertical space which is apparent from all parts of the house and, with the stairway and bridge link pass through it, the accommodation on the first floor becomes an entity with the ground floor”

Later the same critic wrote of the way structural elements had been used to frame the divide between different areas:

“Exposed joists and beams have been used, and by giving careful consideration to their positions and direction of run, this structure is dominant in the spatial idea… The provision of such a modular discipline in the structure at an early stage during the building operation did much to encourage exact craftsmanship by the building operatives”

The front exterior is relatively modest and opts more for privacy than anything else. We start with the kitchen and dining area below.

Moving into the central living area we can see the space really does open up.

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Moving upstairs, we note a transition from the main living room to the bedrooms, and here a change of character. The house goes from being quite open downstairs and along the walkway, to more sheltered and snug.

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The gallery wall links the open living area – stretching the theme upstairs.

Image source is The Modern House, Streetview can be found here. I’ve created a map below for reference.

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Manygate lane: the secret mid-century estate in S-E London

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In a quiet commuter suburb of London, you can find a group of houses that more closely resembles midcentury Denmark or Sweden, than postwar England. The estate, built in 1964/5, was one of very few experiments of modernist housing by the private sector in Britain.

Designed by Swiss architect Edward Schoolheifer (employed by the Lyon Group), the houses are each internally arranged around a central ‘hub’ that includes the main living areas and very high and open glass windows. This follows the mid-century modern concept of blurring the division between inside and outside as it creates a very strong visual link to the garden.

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When the houses were completed they cost approximately double the average price for a three-bed house in London (£3,500). The proximity to Shepperton studios meant that it’s had a few star-studded residents, including Tom Jones (pictured outside his house), the singer Dickie Valentine (whose unfortunate car crash inspired a novel by the local JG Ballard), and rentals from Marlon Brando, Rod Steiger and Julie Christie. Scroll down or click through for two photo sets from houses recently sold in the area.

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A Swiss retreat with a neutral palette

For the first home tour of the year, we’re heading to Switzerland to a recently remodelled 17th century Alpine retreat – the Andermatt Chalet. Andermatt is high up in the mountains, at a 1500m elevation, and surrounded by mountains around 3000m high.

The place not only has a neutral palette, but also a neutral blend of old and new – with the interior designed by Jonathan Tuckey, a firm once described as ‘[able to mix] old and new to make defiantly contemporary architecture‘.

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The Christmas Barn

A festive treat this time. This building is modern-era (built 1972), but has some history behind it – hence the unusual name. A rare honour among modern-builds, this house was listed as ‘Grade II’ by Historic England. In a village outside the relatively small but world-renowned town of Cambridge, it’s a perfect mid-century end to the year.

It’s Christmas day here in England. It snowed earlier this month but none today unfortunately. Still rocking the festive spirit though!

 

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Retro to go: a 60s-styled Dorset beach hut

This small but strategically formed home, forms part of a larger estate with an original architect’s house that was built in 1964. The ‘garden house studio’, as the owners call it, was built more recently – in 2010 – as an outlet for the owner’s creativity and love of design. They are currently renting out the space for holidays. This is a short but sweet tour today, as mid-century styles have been very popular recently. Like this style? Check out this slick mid-century airport lounge, or have a peek at an American Cape Cod retreat.

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A classically styled Stockholm home

I’ve been away in Vienna this week. A friend of mine got a job in the diplomat sphere that goes on there (a lot of international organisations known by their acronyms – (OPEC, IAEA, OSCE …) so we were celebrating. And Vienna’s fun in a calm way; plenty of nice cafes, museums, vintage clothes markets, and so on.

But enough about Austria. This week’s home tour is again in the scandi-style capital of Stockholm. It’s much more classically styled than usual, but isn’t fussy or pastiche. I appreciate the simplicity it’s offering. You can also explore the home’s neighbourhood if you’re interested.

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