More Green Houses: Open House London


Two more modern and sustainable houses, built with budget and site constraints, were open as part of Open House London. Part of the fun is searching out new and unknown quarters of London and these two places were in Peckham, a mixed area with little gentrification going on and poor quality housing stock. With an hour and half wait in line for this house, it is a good thing that people are friendly and love to chat. Many had come because they had seen it on the telly--it had been featured on Grand Designs and voted as one of the Nation's favourite Grand Designs houses.

It was built on a difficult site, with a small budget and lots of good ideas. The front of the house is one story, wood with bamboo growing high--deliberately inobtrusive since it is located in a conservation area. The favourite gimmick is the bath tub that slipped out from under the bed. The huge sliding ceiling in the living room brings light and air to the living/dining space (see above). Many of the kitchen appliances, including dish washer and washing machine were stored behind a wall of cupboards. The bathroom had a window which became opaque when the light was turned on, wisely, since it overlooked the living room. It was open to the bedroom to give a sense of space, so the floor had grills where the shower water could drain down. The bedroom opened onto a lovely courtyard. There was a tango studio in the front, with the flooring from the sycamore tree that had been on the site. The crowds loved it and stayed for ages; an ice cream truck parked in front and did a roaring business.

Quay House was 3 blocks away and completely different in feel and aesthetics. It was developed by an architect/owner and his wife, a sculptor. It had been a milk depot in the 1930's and is now converted into an office, studio and living space. There are three more flats above it. Remnants of the milk depot were retained, such as the flooring in the kitchen and some of the roofing. The plan was to have the private spaces in the rear, including a courtyard created by demolishing some leaking outbuildings. The more public spaces, studio and workshop, were located at the front towards the street. The garden is off the kitchen and it has bamboo, grasses and passion flower vines. The privacy "wall" created out of plastic milk bottles acts as a wind screen. The neighbours all contribute to the collection and the owner has watched as the milk bottles decay slowly.


Four 'Beach Huts' were created on a second floor, fitting between the 10 metre steel trusses, to make three bedrooms and a bathroom. They are reached by a series of galvanized steel stairs. The ground floor living space is bright and spacious, with a high ceiling and glass doors opening out to another small courtyard. In the front there is a storage area for bins and bikes that is clad in green oak panels and has meadow flowers as a roof.


A primary school renovation; sustainable features included the timber and cladding, conservation of existing buildings and rainwater harvesting. The canopies linked the new section to the newly refurbished Victorian part. The tree house was also built of sustainable wood by a parent. :: Open House London

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