Vitra sample sale 2019

Updated 19 July 2019

Not nearly as fraught as the mess described in that article in The Guardian but a lot more expensive, last Saturday’s Vitra sample sale was a mostly civilised experience.

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Having arrived at the Oxo Tower at 5.30am (!), I found myself fifth in the queue (the person at the front had been waiting since 4am), which steadily grew around the block as 9am approached. There was a bit of a scuffle behind me when someone thought it was acceptable behaviour to wander away from said queue for about an hour and a half and then reclaim his spot fifteen minutes before the sale opened but the wait was mostly tolerable thanks to my camp chair and reading materials.

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Shortly before it opened, we were provided with a rough plan of the venue’s layout (accessories on the ground floor, living/office on the first and dining on the second), which allowed for an element of strategy.

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When the doors finally opened, I immediately dashed up to the first floor to locate the lounge chair and desk that I’d planned to buy. There was no sign of the desk but there was, happily, a row of lounge chairs from which I could take my pick due to the fact that I was near the front of the queue. I briefly considered a version in green leather with a handsome palisander shell but it was in the new, larger dimensions, which I’m not a huge fan of (I think it makes the chair look cumbersome and a bit like one of those weirdly proportioned replicas) so I went for a sleek, all-black model (leather and wood panels) in the original, smaller dimensions.

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Green leather in new, larger dimensions vs black leather in original, smaller dimensions

The competitive atmosphere, encouraged by the sales staff (if I didn’t buy it, someone else would!) coupled with my moderate sleep deprivation meant that I didn’t pay much attention to the price on the sticker (it was discounted so that’d do!) and just headed for the tills. Only when I got home did I realise that I could have ordered the same chair in the Heal’s sale from the comfort of my own home for not a huge amount more. At the time of writing, I’m still waiting for my lounge chair to be delivered so I’m hoping that the slight feeling of buyer’s remorse will dissipate as soon as it arrives.

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Looking around at the rest of the stock after I’d bought the lounge chair, it was all still pretty expensive. Desk chairs were about £300-500, dining chairs £150-300 and a lot of stuff (including that ESU bookcase unit and, to my shame, the lounge chair) still in the thousands. The only items going for under £100 were the accessories and those were snapped up pretty quickly.

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My  main tips for anyone attending any future Vitra sample sales are to arrive early (but 5.30am is probably unnecessary unless you’re looking to buy a not particularly discounted lounge chair) and take the sticker off any item that you’re interested in buying but carefully consider whether you could get the item more cheaply elsewhere with a proper warranty before paying – you can always put the sticker back (as I probably should have done).

10 July 2019

I’ve never attended a proper Vitra sample sale with everything at 60% off or more* but this Guardian coverage of a similar event in 2005 makes it sound like an absolute mess of an experience.

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I’m really hoping that it won’t be quite as fraught or competitive this time as I frankly don’t have the time or the energy to compete with people with the commitment to camp outside the venue days in advance. I think one of the reasons for the ridiculousness last time was the way in which the organisers advertised a couple of “special buy” deals designed to whip up hysteria (e.g. an Eames lounger for £50) weeks in advance. Fortunately, they haven’t done that this time so it’ll hopefully be a bit more civilised.

 

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All the same, I’m planning to get there early armed with a camp chair and a book. My probably unrealistic wish list consists of: an Eames lounger (which I’ve had my eye on for a while), an EDU desk (to replace the very 00s frosted glass one in my study) and some kind of pendant light – I will update this entry to let you know how I get on…

For those who want to take part in the bun fight, it’s scheduled to take place at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower, Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH on 13th July 2019 and runs from 9am to 5pm.

*That lame, expensive one in 2015 which just consisted of about 100 green Vegetal chairs doesn’t count.

Goodbye to Skandium (for now)

I don’t know what on earth happened from a business perspective to reduce Skandium, once one of the best known retailers of Scandinavian design and furniture with four outlets across London (two big, beautiful stores on Marylebone High Street and in South Kensington and concessions in Selfridges and the Fritz Hansen shop in Fitzrovia), to a messy pile of stuff at their closing down sale last weekend.

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While I was pleased to hoover up some bargains at the sale (it was odd to see certain design classics I thought I’d never see in the bargain bin at 40% off though sadly, the giant Kay Bojesen monkey was not for sale), I was really quite sad to see one of my favourite stores close and for all the stylish, knowledgable staff to lose their jobs.

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In slightly more positive news, it appears that Skandium will be back at some point: the administrators have found a buyer that intends to focus on rebuilding the brand as an online business with a view to eventually reopening the stores. In the meantime, I’ll have to source my design tat elsewhere.

House in Great Brownings for rent

A very familiar looking house recently popped up on the rental section of the Modernist Estates website.

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Though identical to our house in terms of layout and facade (grey slate and all), this house appears to have almost all of its original features intact, giving it a slightly more vintage feel than ours.

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It’s not a total time capsule though – while the owners have preserved things like the original patio doors (much nicer than our uPVC screens), wooden interior doors, entry porch, bathroom suite and possibly the original kitchen cabinets(?), they’ve gotten rid of the less desirable original features like the dividing wall with serving hatch between kitchen and dining room and the hot (and dry) air heating system.

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The owners have decorated in an authentically mid century style (I’ve always liked that retro shade of green they’ve chosen for the carpet in the living room) but have used just enough modern stuff to avoid the retro pastiche look. Unlike us, they appear to have kept on top of the garden, which is a lot neater and more luscious than ours.

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The professionally taken photos make the photos that I’ve taken of our house look decidedly amateurish in comparison. I think it’s probably time for me to get a new camera.

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The house is available to rent for £2,500 per month via Modernist Estates. Given that we live in a pretty similar house on the same estate, I can predict with confidence that whoever ends up renting this house will be very happy there.

Great Brownings garden

Updated 23 June 2019

Given that we have no appetite for a full-on landscaping project this year (we did call in a gardener to remove weeds and anything that was clearly dead/rotting but that was the extent of it), we decided instead to make a few additions to make the garden a little more inviting for when we have guests over this summer.

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Inspired by this photo of the rooftop garden in the Berkeley Hotel in London that I saw in a magazine, we decided to get a pair of budget-friendly Applaro loungers and the matching side table from Ikea and cover them with sunshine yellow pads and cushions from online store Maison du Monde. We also bought a simple Dancook barbecue and hung up some solar-powered lanterns and some Ikea outdoor lighting.

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This limited window dressing does not conceal the fact that the garden is still a bit of a ramshackle mess (I still want to re-landscape at some point, adding bit of grass and more planters/beds containing a variety of different plants and shrubs) but it’s going to have to do for now.

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22 April 2019 

Given that both my partner and I have lived in flats for all of our adult lives, neither of us have any experience of looking after a garden.

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This meant that we were at a bit of a loss when it came to dealing with the quite mature front and back garden that came with our new house – we had no idea what to do with it or when so we just left it to its own devices (save for removing a rusty old washing line and getting the builders to straighten out the wonky wooden fence in the front garden) while we concentrated on doing up the house itself.

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Six months and two season changes later, it feels like we should do something about it. All the dead leaves and mulch that accumulated in autumn and winter have formed a crispy brown dirt bed everywhere, interrupted by spiky-looking weeds which have started springing up at an alarming rate in the last few weeks.

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The trees, plants and shrubs that aren’t weeds (which it was quite nice to witness sprouting out of the ground in unexpected places at the start of spring, especially the little tree in the front garden which unexpectedly turned out to be a cherry blossom which flowers in mid-March) could also do with some attention before they get even more overgrown and out of control than they already are.

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We’ve called in a gardener to carry out this haircut in the next few weeks so I’ll update this entry if there is any discernible difference worth reporting on. In the longer term, it’d be nice to carry out some slightly more adventurous landscaping. The wonky paving stones leading up to and in front of the house could definitely do with being re-laid and while the ground is too uneven for a lawn in the back garden (and I don’t think I could face maintaining that every week), I like the idea of cultivating a few planters or beds like some of our more green-fingered neighbours.

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Concrete Futures architecture walking tour

I joined this RIBA walking tour last year which took me around the areas surrounding (but unfortunately not into) Balfron Tower and Robin Hood Gardens.

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Robin Hood Gardens, photo courtesy of Neil Clasper Photography

The two social housing projects had been selected for the tour due to their contrasting fates: whilst Balfron Tower was undergoing a glamorous refurbishment at the time, Robin Hood Gardens was facing imminent demolition.

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Balfron Tower, photo courtesy of Dezeen

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Carradale House, photo courtesy of Architects Journal

Balfron Tower was designed by Ernő Goldfinger in 1963 for the London County Council. Stylistically similar to the later Trellick Tower, Balfron Tower was Grade II* listed in 1996. The refurbishment works, undertaken as a joint partnership with luxury residential developer Londonewcastle, have been going on since 2011. All properties in the tower will be sold off once the refurbishment is done with none of them going back to the social housing tenants who lived there before.

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Due to the refurbishment works, the tower had been wrapped in a rather Javacheff Christo-style chrysalis on the day of the tour so it wasn’t much to look at. We had to make do with Carradale House instead, an adjacent, lower rise 11-storey building designed by Goldfinger to complement the 26-storey tower. Carradale House building had a similar look and feel to Balfron Tower with the same sky bridges and access at every third floor.

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While the tour didn’t extend to going inside either building, I understand that all flats in Carradale House have dual window aspect and large south facing balconies, letting in plenty of natural light, with natural wood panels on each side.

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The above pictures of Goldfinger’s former flat in Balfron Tower, which designer Wayne Hemingway restored in 2014 as part of a National Trust exhibition on brutalism (I recall trying and failing to get tickets for this) give you an idea of what the flats in Balfron Tower and Carrdale House were/are like.

The next stop on the tour was Robin Hood Gardens, or rather the remaining sections of the estate that hadn’t yet been demolished.

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Robin Hood Gardens was designed in the late 1960s by architects Alison and Peter Smithson and completed in 1972. It was built as a council housing estate consisting of two long curved blocks made of precast concrete slab blocks facing each other across a central green space.

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The blocks contained 213 homes connected by broad aerial walkways on every third floor (so-called “streets in the sky”) which the architects hoped would encourage interaction between residents. In addition, alcoves called “pause spaces” were provided next to the entrance doorways on the “streets” which the architects hoped the residents would personalise and where children would play. The flats themselves were a mixture of single-storey apartments and two-storey maisonettes, with two to six bedrooms.

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Interior of a flat in Robin Hood Gardens (Sandra Lousada, 1972 © The Smithson Family Collection) courtesy of Municipal Dreams

Unfortunately, it transpired over the years that the design of the estate was inherently flawed. The exposed concrete slab blocks weathered poorly and the location meant that the estate was cut off from its surroundings by roads, exacerbated by its inward-facing design. The “streets in the sky” and the pause places outside the doorways were not used by the residents for their intended purpose and only served to create numerous blind spots for muggers.

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Streets in the sky, Robin Hood Gardens

Visiting the remaining parts of the estate in person, it was still a very striking piece of architecture and I could see why so many renowned architects and heritage bodies campaigned against its demolition. However, it was also undeniably bleak. I was unsurprised to hear that the majority of the former residents – the people who actually had to live on the estate – supported its demolition.

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In a slightly bizarre twist, the V&A Museum salvaged a large three-storey section of the estate, including the gutted interiors of a maisonette flat, sections of concrete stairway and part of an elevated walkway, on the grounds that the estate was a nationally important and internationally recognised work of Brutalist architecture. This was recently reconstructed for display in Venice.

Section of Robin Hood Gardens on display in Venice

Great Brownings – an apology

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Apologies to any subscribers of this blog who received an email containing a very long and even more incoherent than usual post about Great Brownings – I accidentally published and circulated a draft post which I’d been using as a virtual dumping ground for all images and text that I was planning to use for individual posts.

For anyone who is actually interested, here is a link to all of the relevant posts about Great Brownings in a much more coherent format:

https://modernistpilgrimage.com/category/great-brownings/

Thanks for subscribing and apologies once again for the spam!

Picture courtesy of Great Brownings’ resident association website

Great Brownings Master Bedroom

Updated 2 June 2019

I’ve somehow resisted the temptation to fill the master bedroom with clutter, just adding this Flensted mobile (“Turning Leaves”) to the corner of the room as a finishing touch.

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I also picked up this rather natty duvet set for £20 from the new Överallt range at Ikea, a series of items covered in a colourful abstract print of people and animals.

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The en-suite bathroom remains a crusty pink mess.

Updated 18 February 2019

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One of the more difficult rooms to redecorate (thanks to the wall-to-wall built-in wardrobes which needed a lot of attention inside and out) and furnish (due to the fact that there’s only one wall to put furniture against), I’m quite pleased with how the master bedroom has turned out – it’s basically a blend of the three bedrooms pictured below that I stole inspiration from.

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The best thing about this room is its outlook onto Great Brownings though I think most of this view will be obscured when the trees start to sprout leaves again.

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The door to the en-suite bathroom is closed in these photos because it remains a hot mess.

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Although it looks alright, the room doesn’t feel quite finished yet. I’d like to hang more artwork – (potentially something above the Boby trolley on the left of the bed?) and source some kind of rug to go in front of the bed (a bit like this).  Further update to come when I’ve filled the room with a bit more clutter.

12 November 2018

The master bedroom is at the front of the house with a wall of built-in wardrobes, dusty rose wallpaper and an equally pink en-suite bathroom, which will warrant its own blog entry when we turn our attention to it.

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Rather than come up with any original design ideas of our own, we will be aping other rooms we’ve seen in other houses or online again.

The first bedroom that sprang to mind as something we could copy was from a flat in Grenville Court that I narrowly missed out on buying a couple of years ago: it had white walls, textured grey carpet and was simply furnished in a similar style to my existing flat. It was simple, calming and achievable with the resources we have available.

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Another potential source of inspiration was the bedroom in one of those Norman Starrett houses featured in Mid Century Magazine. This bedroom was a bit more high-end, furnished entirely with mid century rosewood pieces with a fine, short tufted, almost velvet-like grey carpet. I managed to find a synthetic carpet with a similar look and feel (something called Smart Vienna) but I wasn’t sure how it would look with our non-antique, slightly more modern furniture.

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The final bedroom I thought we should copy was from a recently restored flat on the Parkleys estate in Ham. A more playful take on mid-century modern, I liked the use of colour against the grey rubber floor. I also loved the bed so much that I immediately did an online trawl of furniture shops and happily found it on Habitat for about £300 in the sale.

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Entry to be updated once master bedroom starts taking shape.

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1. Stag mid century chest of drawers recycled from my current flat

2. Fake Tablo three-legged table recycled from my current flat

3. Slightly broken Habitat Flap clock recycled from my current flat

4. Yellow Boby Trolley recycled from my current flat

5. Lucia bedframe from Habitat

6. Textured Kersaint Cobb carpet in Morning Frost – we’re carpeting the whole of the upper floor in this as I couldn’t risk the velvety Smart Vienna looking weird

7. Marimekko bedding recycled from my current flat

8. Fake George Nelson bubble lamp recycled from my current flat

9. Poster Ladder by Marie-Aurore Stiker-Metral recycled from my current flat

Dulwich Artists Open House

The Dulwich artists’ Open House weekend allowed me to enjoy two of my favourite pastimes at once: shopping and nosing around other people’s mid century homes.

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(from L-R, starting with top row) works by: Charlene Mullen, Sarah Hamilton, Emily Jo Gibbs, Jo Lewis, Fabio Almeida, Victoria Kitchingman, The Fine Groove, Jim Grundy and Birgitta Pohl

With the goal of finding a suitable artwork to hang on one of the bare walls in the hallway of our house, we set off around the map provided by the organisers. I’ll admit that I chose the places that we ended up visiting 40% based on the art (which I won’t even attempt to write about due to a lack of knowledge and appropriate vocabulary on my part – I’ll provide links to the artists’ websites instead) and 60% based on the house in which the art was being exhibited.

First on the agenda was Sarah Hamilton who was displaying her prints, painting and homewares in her Austin Vernon & Partners-designed house in Peckarmans Wood.

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Peckarmans Wood – exterior and grounds

Built in 1963 and widely considered to be the finest of all the 1960s Dulwich houses, her house was one of the larger, two storey types with an upside-down layout (entry and living spaces on the ground floor, bedrooms on the lower lground floor with access to the garden), floor-to-ceiling windows, wooden panelling, pitched ceilings and elevated views over the communal grounds and towards the City.

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Peckarmans Wood, interior (Sarah Hamilton)

Just further up the road were Victoria Kitchingman who was displaying her portrait-focussed oil and mixed media paintings and paintings, and Jo Lewis who was displaying her water-based paintings, in Woodsyre, another Austin Vernon & Partners-designed terrace of houses.

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Woodsyre, interior (Victoria Kitchingman)

These houses were deceptively substantial, containing multiple, generously proportioned living areas (both artists had knocked through the original kitchen on the ground floor) and five bedrooms spread across four floors.

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Woodsyre, interior (Jo Lewis)

Both houses had panoramic views from the top of Sydenham Hill and access to an idyllic communal green at the bottom of the their beautifully manicured gardens.

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Woodsyre, garden (Jo Lewis)

Next on the list were The Fine Groove and Birgitta Pohl exhibiting intricate wood engravings and functional, decorative stoneware at a split-level maisonette which had the feeling of a house in Breakspeare, a sixties-looking development next to Sydenham Hill station.

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Breakspeare (The Fine Groove and Birgitta Pohl)

Joy Godden and Charlie Loxley were exhibiting jewellery and children’s prints in a house in Lings Coppice, which had been reconfigured on the ground floor to create an open plan space with bi-folding doors opening out onto the garden.

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Ling’s Coppice, interior (Joy Godden and Charlie Loxley)

Jim Grundy was exhibiting his rather stunning geometric abstract paintings at his classic sixties three-storey townhouse on Half Moon Lane.

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Half Moon Lane (Jim Grundy)

Slightly further afield near Denmark Hill was Charlene Mullen displaying her embroidered scenic cushions and ceramics of London at her house in The Hamlet, a rather lovely development of 32 terraced houses arranged in a rectangular formation around a large communal green.

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The Hamlet, exterior (Charlene Mullen)

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The Hamlet, exterior (Charlene Mullen)

Built in 1967, it was reportedly architect Peter Moiret’s final project before he died so he was intent on designing something special. Split over three floors, the house was generously proportioned with an open-plan, very deluxe-looking kitchen on the ground floor with access to an exotic-looking garden and a split-level reception room on the first floor with a balcony at both ends.

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The Hamlet, interior (Charlene Mullen)

Last on the itinerary were Emily Jo Gibbs and Fabio Almeida in Forest Hill. Emily Jo Gibbs was displaying her beautifully delicate hand-stitched textile portraits and still lifes in the classic three-storey sixties townhouse opposite the Horniman Museum that she grew up in.

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Tarleton Gardens, interior (Emily Jo Gibbs)

Fabio Almeida’s abstract paintings and collages persuaded us to trek up that hill to the Grassmount development.

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Grassmount, interior (Fabio Almeida)

Like the townhouse in Grassmount that we viewed during our property search, Fabio Almeida’s house was generously proportioned and provided the perfect mid-century flavoured backdrop for his fantastic (and surprisingly accessibly priced) pieces.

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Grassmount, interior (Fabio Almeida)

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Grassmount, interior (Fabio Almeida)

Walkerscroft Mead, Dulwich SE23

Updated 5 May 2019

One year after moaning about how those funny looking “courtyard” houses with pointy roofs on Walkerscroft Mead never come up for sale, two were recently listed in quick succession.

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The first one was mysteriously listed by the agent without any photos of the interior and at a suspiciously low price for a three bedroomed detached house in West Dulwich (£650k). Despite the fact that the combination of these factors suggested that the house was an absolute hot mess inside and we’d just bought another house nearby, I was sorely tempted to arrange a viewing just to have a nose around (I’d already invented a story in my head about our circumstances) but it was sold after only a few days on the market.

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The second house looks familiar – I’m sure I’ve seen photos of the overly modernised interior before. While it looks the same as all of the other houses of its type from the outside (thanks to the stringent rules imposed by the Dulwich Estate in relation to external alterations), it appears to have been extended and carved up beyond recognition on the inside – it barely looks like the same house when you compare its floorplan with that of the first house, which retained the original layout. Just to highlight how much of a steal the first house was, the second house was listed at £795k and is still on the market.

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8 July 2018

Walkerscroft Mead, Dulwich SE23
1960s terraced house on the Whytefield Estate
Architect: Austin Vernon and Partners
Year built: 1961-1967

We were impressed by West Dulwich as an area when we went to see Ling’s Coppice so we were keen to see a house that had come up for sale in Walkerscroft Mead, another Austin Vernon and Partners-designed estate nearby.

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Walkerscroft Mead forms part of the wider Whytefield Estate, which also includes Pymers Mead, Perifield, Cokers Lane and Coney Acre and was built between 1961 and 1967. At 7.5 acres, it is one of the largest of the early 1960s Dulwich Estate development sites and contains a number of different property types: mews townhouses and maisonettes, single-storey bungalows and detached “courtyard” houses with unusual pointy roofs.

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The house we viewed was a part of a terrace of mews townhouses and maisonettes which backed onto a central garden court. The house comprised on the ground floor, a garage, utility room, entrance hall and bedroom/study leading out into a small walled garden (which then led out into the rather beautiful communal gardens), and on the first floor, approached by a semi-circular staircase, a large living room across the front of the house, a dining room and kitchen at the back, and on the second floor, three bedrooms and a bathroom.

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It was really quite a spacious townhouse albeit one with a lot of redundant space, a prime example being the entirety of the ground floor which had a practically unusable layout (though we were told that other people knocked through the garage, study and utility room into an enormous kitchen diner, which would be a far better configuration especially given the relatively small kitchen on the first floor). The house also needed a new central heating system (as it featured a dreaded 1960s hot air heating system) and general cosmetic updating throughout.

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I liked the house and thought it compared favourably to similar townhouses we’d seen (that slightly dilapidated one in Southfields with the hole in the ceiling sprang to mind) but I didn’t think it was architecturally interesting enough to invest time and funds into doing the renovations required to make it our home. The lack of really distinct architectural features was emphasised by the other, far more striking housing types on the (beautifully maintained) estate, namely the bungalows and the detached “courtyard” houses with pointy roofs – I’d much rather have been looking around one of those.

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Model of Phase 2 “courtyard” houses (courtesy of whytefield.co.uk)

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St Bernards Houses, East Croydon, CRO

Updated 27 April 2019

Four years after I visited St Bernard’s Close on one of those Open House days and moaned about how infrequently houses on the estate become available, a lovely example of a house has finally come up for sale via the Modern House.

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I was actually given advance warning of this listing by the seller, who having seen my original blog entry, kindly gave me first dibs before putting it on the market but given that we’ve just bought and renovated a house, the timing obviously wasn’t quite right.

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I remember being quite taken with the houses and the estate when I visited: St Bernards had a very tranquil, European/Swiss vibe to it (not dissimilar to Great Brownings, where we ended up buying) and was beautifully maintained.

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The house that has come up for sale is in the sort of condition that I looked for when I was was searching for a mid century property in that it appears to have had some renovations over the years to prevent it from becoming a rundown relic but still has most of its original features intact. The price seems fair as well for a four-bedroom house (though note one of the bedrooms is that slightly odd, windowless “rumpus”).

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I’m sure the house will make a wonderful home to another mid century enthusiast – I would advise anyone who is interested to move quickly because it will probably be at least another four years before another one of them becomes available.

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15 September 2015

St Bernards, East Croydon CR0
Twenty-one houses, in three hillside terraces, built by Swiss architects Atelier 5 for Wates
Architect: Atelier 5
Year Built: 1969-70

I’ve never been a huge fan of Croydon but I would be willing to move there if I meant that I could live in one of these beautiful little houses.

St Bernards is a group of 21 houses set on three hillside terraces. The development was built by Wates in 1969-70 to a design by the Swiss architects Atelier 5.

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I must say that this development didn’t look like all that much from the street. It had a flat roof, was seemingly all on one storey and there were rows and rows of identical dark timber doors, giving it the appearance of a stable block.

It became apparent, however, that this was all part of the design, which was intended to maximise privacy given the high density nature of the housing. Behind each stable-like door was a small enclosed garden with a pergola. There was an inner door to the house which led to a hall with a dining area and kitchen (lit by a skylight) to the left. Ahead was the living area with a balcony and views over woods and hills. On the right, a passage led to a cloakroom and narrow bedroom.

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Downstairs (the houses were not one-storey after all), there were two further bedrooms (one of a decent size, the other a bit narrow), which both opened on to another small enclosed garden. There was also a bathroom, a bizarre, windowless ‘rumpus’ (a bunker to comply with Swiss standards) and utility room.

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I was fortunate enough to see three different versions of the same house. The first, pictured here, was a beautiful and preserved example of the architect’s original design. I was particularly taken by the ground floor layout which was divided by various pieces of built-in furniture: standing in the dining area at the front of the house, you could look through the built-in open shelving into the kitchen, which opened on the other side into the living room and gardens beyond. The two smaller bedrooms were admittedly a bit corridor-like and the bunker room a bit weird but the overall design and layout more than made up for these shortcomings.

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The other two houses had been extensively remodelled by their respective owners, who described ripping out all of the original features in order to replace them with contemporary features such as glass block walls, chrome handrails, halogen spotlights and mirrored mosaic tiling. I nodded politely even though I felt inwardly distressed.

In addition to the small private gardens, the development was surrounded by mature landscaped communal gardens.

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I have no idea how much these houses are worth. Reportedly they only tend to come up for sale when someone dies so there’s little chance of me getting my hands on one even if market value is within my price range.