Positioned on the corner of two roads of late Edwardian houses, the curving cedar façade of this starkly modern house looks a little alien at first. But in the five years since it was built it has become a much-loved landmark near Peckham Rye Park in East Dulwich.
Architects Nagan Johnson were given the problem of fitting a three bedroom house into the small, triangular site occupied by two garages. Michael Johnson, of award winners Nagan Johnson, says: “It was a corner site between two suburban streets and we couldn’t replicate the suburban nature of the street. The owner of the garages wanted a plan so he could sell the site and he was happy to go to planning appeal if necessary.”
Accordingly the architects drew up a design for a timber framed, flat roofed house clad with red cedar that curves around the corner and is built right up to the perimeter, with widows on one side inset so that no-one can look in. The interiors have solid oak floors and neutral tones. As they expected the local planners didn’t want a house that looked so unlike its neighbours and it went to appeal.
Michael adds: “Wood was the right material to accentuate the curve of the house. To get light and air in we made a courtyard house in an L shape so the rooms facing the garden have floor to ceiling glazing to let light in. The garden then narrows to the point of the triangle. Because of the shape it was not possible to make the house look like any other part of the street and that licensed us to free-range thinking. We won the appeal because it was a brown field site that lent itself to something different. My view is that the sweep of timber added to rather than detracted from its appearance. It is certainly a lot better looking than two asbestos garages.”
Although unusual in appearance the house has some details that are routine for Nagan Johnson.
“We tend to put the utility rooms with the upper rooms because most of the washing is generated upstairs with bedding and clothes. We also split the WCs from the shower and bedrooms and try to ensure the master suite has a dressing area.” Against the modern trend the kitchen is also separate from the dining room, because as Michael explains: “Cooking, washing up and dirty pans don’t go with dining and it’s nice to move into a peaceful area free of clutter.” Normally Nagan Johnson like to tuck staircases away but because the main reception room was fairly narrow a glass sided staircase was put in to create the visual illusion that the room was wider.
Michael adds: “After planning permission was granted the site was sold to a Canadian whose father and grandfather had both built their own houses and who saw it as a sort of rite of passage. We didn’t get involved in the build and when it was completed I went to see it and was so pleased with the way he had built it, with all the details just right.
“We tend to be called in when people can’t fit an ordinary house onto a site and I love it. The more difficult the site the more I enjoy it.”
Ryedale, East Dulwich, SE22, £949,000, Roy Brooks 020 8299 3021 www.naganjohnson.co.uk
Read more about this luxury property on page 30 of London Property South Magazine