The best homes in Open House London 2016

PUBLISHED: 09:53 16 September 2016 | UPDATED: 10:42 16 September 2016

Sanya Polescuk

Sanya Polescuk


Open House allows public access to a wealth of interesting buildings but some of the best are the private homes, which you would never get a chance to explore unless you were friends of the owners.

Christ Snow architect, 6 Mornington TerraceChrist Snow architect, 6 Mornington Terrace

For: anyone who wants to do something a bit different with the traditional terrace

6 Mornington Terrace, NW1 7RR by Chris Snow Architects, Open Sun, 2-5pm

Thinking of refreshing your period home? Get ideas on how to re-model a 19th century property at this Camden town house, participating in Open House London for the first. In the Camden Town conservation area keeping one eye on planning constraints was always going to be a consideration. Despite this, the practice managed to re-build the rear of the house with an entire glass façade (imported from Switzerland, the home of precision glazing, according to Chris Snow). They also created a new living room in the basement and a dining room on the ground floor that connects to a courtyard garden. “The traditional narrow Camden townhouse has two different levels but we did away with that and simplified the layout so it’s now on one level,” says Snow. “It’s quite difficult to tell what’s new and what’s old when you come in.”

Elizabeth MewsElizabeth Mews

For: anyone who wants to make the most of the space available to them

Elizabeth Mews, NW3 by Sanya Polescuk Architects, Open Sun 10am-1pm. Architect-led tours every 45mins

This Belsize Park mews property was transformed from a dingy, inefficiently laid out mish mash of three 19th century buildings into a light, spacious and attractive home.

“It looked like a lost cause,” says Sanya Polescuk. “It had three different floor levels and a lot of wasted communication space – it was an inefficient passage from a to b. A family of five was living there with two bedrooms and one bathroom and they desperately needed more space.” An application to extend upwards with a previous architect had been refused so Polescuk looked elsewhere for additional space, making better use of the building’s unused loft for three mezzanine children’s rooms as well as an additional bathroom and moving the staircase, and inserting skylights and glazing.

Elizabeth Mews Elizabeth Mews

An energy efficient retrofit was also carried out with one eye always on the space available (two types of insulation were used in different areas of the house to save space). The project was clearly a success. The family have a country house that they used to escape to every weekend but now “they’re complaining that nobody wants to go any more, the house is too nice to spend time in,” says Polescuk.

For: anyone who aspires to losing their commute

Belsize Court GaragesBelsize Court Garages

8A Belsize Court Garages, NW3 by Sanya Polescuk Architects, Open Sat/Sun 10am-1pm. Architect-led tours every 45 mins

In its fourth year at Open House, Sanya Polescuk Architects own studio and upstairs residential maisonette is a popular spot with queues forming every year. When the practice moved in, the original 19th century coachman’s living quarters and stable was being used as an artist’s studio and next door flat. The architects stripped away the finishings to expose many original details, including horse tatters, a strip of Victorian tiles, the old timber framing of the walls which was stripped and left unclad, and cobbled flooring.

“You can travel through time in the building if you’re guided,” says Polescuk. It’s even possible to see where the pit for cars was when the premises was used as a garage, although it has been filled in. It’s not all about the past, of course, and the live/work property has been given a full, carbon-reducing retrofit. Look out for the the plywood hidden kitchen and storage unit covering one wall of the upstairs living quarters.

Belsize Court GaragesBelsize Court Garages

For: anyone who quite fancies a yacht but yet to take the plunge

Kebony HouseKebony House

Kebony House, Oak Hill Park, NW3 7LP by Claridge Architects, Sat 10am-5pm. Last entry 4.30pm

Oiled kebony wood, laid in diagonal strips, is traditionally used as a yacht building material but here the same technique is used to wrap this Hampstead bungalow (not that the architects would refer to it as such). The new build house is set at the foot of a Victorian mansion block with its intensive green roof replacing the garden that was there before. The roof incorporates a terraced seating area, lawn and perimeter with planted foliage and privacy protecting trees. Views of the leafy surroundings are also available throughout the house thanks to full height and width windows.


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