Lucky draw: the 20th century Kentish Town house with its very own drawbridge
PUBLISHED: 14:54 16 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:54 16 June 2017
This completely unique 20th century Gothic-inspired Kentish Town home comes with a drawbridge and vaulted ceilings
A 1970s Modernist-Gothic house is back on the market with The Modern House for £895,000. Down from £935,000 when it was last sold in March 2016, the idiosyncratic property is a relative bargain for house hunters looking for something a little different.
It’s somewhat of a shame that current owner film director Guiseppe Capotandi couldn’t find anything out about the history of his home on Countess Road, leaving us guessing at its design inspirations. Although mid-century Modernism had had its day when it was built by Brian Muckley Associates in 1975, the harsh obtrusion of Brutalism was clearly out of favour on this quiet residential street.
Hidden away behind the building line on the end of a Victorian terrace, it appears the architect may have turned to the High Victorian Gothic for inspiration, but with a very modern twist.
The Gothic Revival style took inspiration from religious enthusiasts like Augustus Pugin, grounded in the picturesque and obsessed with medieval architecture. A reaction to the industrial landscape of the 18th century, it was John Ruskin who set down the thesis of the style in his Seven Lamps of Architecture.
Perhaps inspired by the medieval, surrounding the property is a wooden drawbridge in the private rear garden with metal balustrade.
“There used to be a moat around the house originally, but it’s not there any more,” says Mr Capotandi. “The drawbridge is still here, I don’t know if it’s still functioning; I’ve never tried it. It’s here, it’s quite peculiar, and it’s fun. The garden as well is very nice, very quiet with a lot of large trees.”
The go-between between the glass conservatory and the garden, the moat leads into an angular structure with Picasso-esque polygon structures atop the conservatory roof.
Down the stairs, the reception room is flooded with natural light by way of French doors and rooflights, whilst elsewhere slit windows made from glass bricks allow light to bathe the study on the lower half-level and bounce off the whitewashed walls which once surrounded the garden.
Mr Capotandi restored the windows and frames with replicas of the originals. “It’s very bright and when the sunlight’s out it glows inside…it’s really amazing the way the light works inside,” he says.
Taking inspiration from the high ceilings of its Victorian neighbours, the home offers an unrivalled sense of volume with vaulted spaces, double height ceilings and a large, open walkway on the upper floor. The interlocking mono-pitch roof is exposed, just as Gothic architects, who so hated façade and stucco frontage in preference of leaving the imperfections and structural fabric of the building in plain sight, would have wanted.
Despite a retreat from the modern, metal balustrades create an industrial feeling leading through narrow doorways to a high-ceilinged master bedroom with built in wardrobes.
A hotel-style dark bathroom offers a welcome contrast to the bright, white spaces and brilliant blue half-open kitchen design which create a collaborative feeling between the Gothic and the Modernist. A new boiler has been installed by the current owners and there is electric underfloor heating.
It seems that the Gothic might have subconsciously rubbed off on Mr Capotandi, who is heading back to the place where John Ruskin wrote his celebrated architectural works, Italy. With such character infusing the walls of the blank canvas, Mr Capotandi hopes that young, creative urbanites will take it on and inject their own personalities into the home.
“It’s only two bedrooms and one is actually very small so [it would suit] a young couple, urban professionals.” However, he is sad to leave the home he has lived in for only a year.
“It’s beautiful, it’s the best house I’ve ever lived in. I’m very sorry to leave,” he reflects.