Delay in building Highgate ‘spaceship’ house not my fault says architect

An architect has defended the design of his Highgate home after neighbours described it as looking like something from outer space.

Mike Russum lives in the unique-looking property in Wood Lane with his partner.

The house was designed by Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects (BPPR) – an award-winning firm, of which which Mr Russum is a partner.

But the plot has been a construction site since 2006 and neighbours want to know when the house will finally be finished.

Mr Russum said the interior is due for completion soon and work to external landscape areas will start shortly: “The process of gaining planning permission took about two years and the costs of appealing were in the region of �20,000 – money and time that, rather than being utterly wasted, could have usefully been invested in the build quality of the house.


“The uncertainty about gaining planning approval meant that construction drawings could not be commenced until consent was granted – causing further delay to the overall programme.”

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However, neighbours including Judith Steiner, were alarmed when they saw the silver structure being transported down the pretty street. Mrs Steiner bought her house in 1970. She said: “I originally supported the idea of having a home for the 21st century on the street.

“Wood Lane has a vast range of architectural styles and we thought it was right to add a modern home to the mix. But work here has been going on for years and now it just looks like a scrapyard surrounded by a chain link fence.

“It looks like something from War of the Worlds.

“I don’t want to criticise the architecture, it is really the mess we are concerned about.”

Mr Russum said many passers-by have been “immensely complimentary” about the house.

“Certainly there has been fierce opposition by a few neighbours, which has been costly to us in both money and time,” he said.

“We understand the concerns about the delay to its completion, which has been painfully experienced by us.

“The house is not conventional and explores various architectural ideas about creating a joyful home appropriate to this age.

“It is unashamedly modern and we accept that it will not be everybody’s cup of tea.

“However, the design won The Architecture Prize at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition last year and we consider that to be a very cultured endorsement.”