High-Tech Hampstead: A Norman Foster-designed home with stunning interiors
PUBLISHED: 19:00 02 December 2014 | UPDATED: 11:07 03 December 2014
A High-Tech home in Hampstead, north London is on the market for the first time since it was converted by renowned architects Norman Foster and Michael and Patty Hopkins in 1969.
The former Coach House on Pond Street, was bought by Ron Hall, who was one of three journalists who founded The Sunday Times Insight team, counting the Profumo affair and exposing landlord Peter Rachman among his investigations.
Always very design-conscious, he commissioned Foster and Partners to work on the project of converting the compact period property into the far larger and very modern building that exists today.
The house is an early example of High-Tech architecture, where the structure of the building is exposed inside and out, and features concrete block walls, exposed metal beams and an aluminium-framed glazed wall looking onto the garden.
Michael and Patty Hopkins, who designed the building alongside Foster, were living in one of Neave Brown’s Winscombe Street houses at the time.
They later built the home on nearby Downshire Hill where they still live today. It shares many features with the Pond Street house, including the exposed metal beams and walls.
In a speech given to Women In Architecture this year, Patty Hopkins described her inspirations from the time: “We wanted to blow a fresh wind through grey old England, inspired by images from Aalto’s Scandinavia and the US.
“We were also excited by the growing interest in harnessing industrial production to make buildings – Jean Prouve, Buckminster Fuller.”
Hall himself was also very involved in the design. The son of a builder, he had a lifelong love of and talent for carpentry, and designed and built much of the house’s furniture, which can be seen in interiors that have remained virtually unchanged over the years.
A fitted shelving unit in the living room is painted in the orange of the late 1960s, a colour that can also be seen in Richard Rogers’ house for his parents, which dates from the same era. Its ingenious design holds not only a huge number of books but also Hall’s vast collection of classical LPs and an in-built record player, reflecting his deep love of music.
He also teamed up with Alan Turville of Hille to design the large brown leather sofas, which he then made himself.
Considering the house finished, Hall never really tampered with it after the initial work was completed. Instead he would indulge his passion for carpentry by undertaking projects for others – he even installed fitted kitchens for a couple of friends.
Hall would take any excuse for a party and the 600 sq ft open plan reception room and the roof terrace that covers the same area above it were often teaming with people. New Year’s Eve parties at the house were legendary but people would also be invited over for all-night election parties.
Musicians were also regular visitors as Hall’s first wife was an accomplished harpsichordist and would sometimes give recitals in the house, while the American photographer Arnold Newman reportedly had his socks blown off when he first saw it.
What remains most impressive about the house to this day is its ability to make such an industrial and potentially forbidding house feel so comfortable, characterful and welcoming, a feat one can only hope the next owner manages to uphold.
The house is available through Savills with a guide price of £2,450,000