Open House/Kings Grove

I don’t know whether it’s because property is cheap-ish or because Southwark Council’s planning department is particularly receptive to new ideas, but there are some great contemporary houses where I live in Peckham (and its immediate environs). This is particularly apparent at this time of year when Open House weekend means they open their doors to the public. Within a 10-min walk of my flat is the super-slim, sliding-roofed 15-and-a-half Consort Road, best known from Grand Designs (warning – very smug image of McCloud when you click that link); Quay House, a live-work-gallery space almost unrecognisable from its former life as a milk depot; and, open for the first time this year, Duggan Morris Architects‘ 16a Kings Grove. I visited today, and it’s wonderful from the get-go. You enter via a gate between two Victorian terraces which opens up into a little coppice of silver birch trees, and the house itself, two storeys of simple, warm brick and glass. It completely hugs its slightly telescopic plot, so it gets narrower as you reach the back, but lots of glazing (including a central light-well) stops it from being dark; the house backs on to 10 houses so it must have been tricky achieving a design that didn’t overlook the neighbours too much. And it’s beautifully finished, as you would expect from the house of two architects, although the interior is spare and architect-y, for want of a better word – concrete floors, oak joinery, and brickwork, which continues inside. There’s some fun stuff as well though, especially the bathroom and en-suite, both resplendent in dirty-pink tiles with brass taps (from perennial architects’ fave, Vola), and the similarly shiny-shiny Artek pendant lights. This post is going on too long, but suffice to say, it’s very heartening to see such good stuff happening in my neighbourhood. And yes, my pictures are rubbish, but see View picture library for good ones.

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