London's Most Extraordinary Properties

by Gary Whittaker

London is not a city that shies away from an ambitious design or some architectural innovation. From classic to modern properties, revamped studios to converted warehouses built in the 1800s, Assist Inventories have compiled five of the most unexpected homes to find in London and what makes them so unique.

This list is a celebration of the bold designers, architects and homeowners that create or live in these pioneering but somewhat strange spaces.

1. Formerly a Victorian furniture warehouse built in 1871, the 4,756 sq ft building in the heart of Brixton was converted into a workspace again in 2010. As well as the offices and hire space used for events, this mixed-use property doubles as a one-bedroom apartment.

The apartment is separated from the first-floor space and has an open-plan room containing a freestanding kitchen made from old pharmaceutical units. Upstairs, a second large space has original solid wood floors and bare brick walls.

The intricate timber ceiling exposes the building s irregular shape. It features a secluded roof terrace with access from the mezzanine.

The owner s imagination to adapt and reuse the property s original features gives it a fascinating personality and it went on the market in 2018 for £1.9million.

2. The weird and wonderful come in all sizes and aren t exclusive to the largest properties. Three years ago, a terrace house emerged on the market in Harringay, north London that was just 83 inches wide. It was on Rightmove for £235,000 and squeezed in two bedrooms on the first floor, with a reception room, kitchen and bathroom on the ground floor as well as a roof terrace. It was built over a driveway between two houses.

Thought to be London s slimmest home but not quite the narrowest house in Britain. That accolade goes to a Scottish home aptly named the Wedge which is only 47 inches wide at the front of the building on the Isle of Cumbrae. Fortunately for the occupants it gets wider at the rear and they can enjoy sea views - a feature the Harringay house does not have.

With property developers looking for any opportunity in London s crowded streets expect to see more narrow accommodation for sale or rent that aren t much wider than two metres.

3. It s referred to as Kensington s most unusual property which is impressive considering it was built back in 1967. The Grade II Modernist building certainly doesn t look like an average corner house and would set you back over £3.5million. Architect Tom Kay designed it for Christopher Bailey, one of London s leading commercial photographers, and his opera-singer wife, Angela Hickey.

The four-storey building was designed around a distinctive cylindrical stair turret with a single glass dome roof. The aim was to make the most of valuable living space. The living room is nearly 30 feet long and the roof terrace is positioned to make the most of the sun. The kitchen and studio are even linked by a concealed hoist so that food can be transported between rooms.

Fifty years later the house is still a sight to behold for passers-by on Hillgate Street and Kensington Place.

4. Another residential development with a nod to London s industrial history. Gasholders London in the centre of King s Cross has converted three Victorian cast iron gasholder frames (the conjoined gasholders were known as the Siamese Triplets) into apartments and penthouses.

Residents of the Grade II-listed building alongside Regent s Canal have access to a gym, spa, cinema, and a rooftop garden.

Jonathan Tuckey designed the interiors and said, We wanted to celebrate the gasholders history and geometry while giving owners a sense of softness and domesticity.

5. The Tree House in Clapham was named the UK s first carbon neutral detached house after six years of monitoring the property s efficiency. Eco-builder Will Anderson devised a complex strategy of stringent standards that involved constructing insulated walls, floor and roofs, high-performance windows, airtightness and mechanical ventilation with heat recovery.

It was unusual for Britain s first zero carbon performing home to be located in its busiest city but the striking exterior design and interior features make it even more memorable.

The small urban plot of land it s built on is dominated by a large sycamore tree with a preservation order, which became the inspiration behind the property. Rather than a constraint, the mature tree is integrated as part of the house that was completed in 2007. The three-storey building has a timber frame, branchlike roof trusses and the top-floor study opens up to the tree.

The property has been open to the public before and people can read about the whole process in Will Anderson s book , learning how a property can generate as much energy as it consumes. He sold the property and is currently finishing The Orchard on the neighbouring plot in southwest London, an ecological design focusing on craft and gardening.

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