Architecture

THE TREE HOUSE

5th September 2014

Certain things are guaranteed to catch my eye in an interior, and the Claude sofa from Pinch is one of them. I may not be a ‘floral person’, but I’ve adored this sofa since I laid eyes on it, first in a magazine, and then in the flesh in an amazing Georgian property in Edinburgh. And the piece looks just an fantastic here, standing by the floor-to-ceiling window in this vast open plan living, dining and kitchen space, with the backdrop of the garden behind. It’s the perfect piece in a space where the outside has most definitely been brought in.

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But then, just look at this house. This is the kind of property that gives me the shivers – and in a good way. The first time I saw this building listed on The Modern House I thought, what is that finish? Is that glass? Did someone really clad a house in glass?

And they did, and it looks wonderful. The Tree House was designed by architect Ian McChesney, and is tucked down a quiet lane in Sydenham in south-east London. The house overlooks an area of woodland called the Albion Millennium Green, which is one of 245 Millennium Greens across the UK – protected areas of green space that were created in 2000 as “permanent breathing spaces” and “places of tranquility” within urban areas.

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And this setting understandably informed the design of this house. In his proposal for the property, McChesney wrote that “the reflections of foliage can be seen in the black glass façade, giving the building a lucid quality and helping it blend into its surroundings.” As you can see from these photos, the inky, glossy façade reflects the trees and the gardens and the sky. It’s a bold and brilliant approach where an otherwise stark black building is softened by the foliage that envelops it.

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This alone would make The Tree House an exciting find, but the interior is no less impressive. The main living space is drenched in light from the iroko-framed floor-to-ceiling windows on three sides. The Dik Geurts wood-burning stove provides definition to the open plan space, separating one seating area from another, and this entire space flows seamlessly into the dining and cooking zones – although sliding pocket doors allow the dining-kitchen to be closed off if desired.

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The striking ‘zig-zag’ oak staircase is lit from above by frameless glass skylights and clerestorey glazing. There are four bedrooms on the upper floor, all overlooking the woodland. And this house packs an eco punch, having achieved a four-star rating under the Code for Sustainable Homes thanks largely to its outstanding energy efficiency.

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Of course, all good architecture should embrace its location, but this house does so in an unexpected way, not simply with views and the sympathetic materials you might expect, but by utilizing a material that literally blends The Tree House into its setting. The name says it all.

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The Tree House is on the market with The Modern House at an asking price of £1,595,000. Photography via The Modern House.

See my Steller story on The Tree House.

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