London Open House 2013: on a domestic scale

For this year’s London Open House we decided to visit some domestic scale properties.



This was quite a departure for us, as we usually try to get into the “great and the glamorous”, like with our epic stake out of The Gherkin last year.

While The White House and Pitzhanger Manor deserve their own posts, here are some of the other photos from our weekend, showing what can be achieved with a little imagination and an interior designer.

de Beauvoir House

This is the former home of a pair of architects, who decided to fill in the side access with an extension and add a large white cube-effect, glass-backed kitchen on the rear of the house while attempting to keep the historic interior of the original 1840s house (but they painted all the walls white and installed plenty of fresh wood to add a contemporary touch).

Their list of suppliers is useful:,,,,,,,,,,,

Neo Bankside

I was intent on visiting Neo Bankside (and the £5m show flat which was open for Open House Weekend) because I have watched (and continue to watch) the construction and life of this building.

It is next door to the Blue Fin Building, the HQ of Country Life and Homes & Gardens magazine (which explains why the garden of Neo Bankside was featured in H&G earlier in 2013) and is one of a number of new mega-expensive blocks which are being built along the South Bank. It was notorious for having prices “starting at £1m” and for the developers having given a wad of cash to Southwark Council to build “affordable homes” elsewhere because even on a part-ownership scheme, people would essentially have to be city bankers to afford the cheapest home (which is basically a goldfish bowl – I have watched people eating their breakfast while sitting at the traffic lights (the block is on a crossroads)).

Interestingly (and I think mistakenly) the developers took the decision to offer full glazing around the balcony, which essentially allows residents to enlarge their living space.  However, in winter the glass sliding wall which divides the balcony from the lounge must be closed (if it hasn’t seized up, which the one in the show flat had) because the balcony glazing is only single glazed.  Since the first frosts hit in early October, I have watched with interest how each morning the windows are covered in condensation.  For £5m someone has got the same problem my gran has in her Victorian sash-windowed house!

I spy my neighbours (don’t pick your nose!)

Inside, the bedrooms are small (my main bedroom is larger than the master in the £5m flat) and the space is dull without the inspiration of an interior designer.  The view has also suffered because the Tate Modern is building a very high extension on its rear.  Therefore, look left and apartment-dwellers can see the river Thames, look right and they see an art-goer’s face pressed against a window in the Tate Modern extension, peering into the bathroom of Neo Bankside (the windows in the bathrooms are not frosted!).

Another interesting factor is the residents gym, which is glazed floor to ceiling and about to be on show to the Starbucks customers, as Starbucks is due to open a café in the ground floor of Neo Bankside.  Plus, the residents garden isn’t really private as it’s not gated (the gates are open during the daytime to allow people access to the restaurant on the ground floor of Neo Bankside)

Not for me, but I continue to watch this new building with interest because I think it’s a sign of things to come around Bankside, my stomping ground.

When visited: September 2013

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