This curvy and utterly unconventional London residence was designed over 12 years by its owners, Michael Russum—co-founder of Birds Portchmouth Russum Architects—and his partner Sally. One suspects that what the couple really wanted was a boat.
Described by the architect as a “mystery vessel,” the home is filled with nautical references from its prow-like curved facade, gangplank entrance, porthole windows, and glassy crow’s nest.
Snugly slotted between two traditional terraced homes in the North London village of Highgate, the abode shows its distinct personality from the start: “The ramped footbridge signals the departure from the prosaic world and the commencement of an extraordinary journey across a metaphorical seascape,” said Russum. “The entrance hall is articulated as a rippling shoreline and a lighthouse marks embarking the stepped gangway into the dramatic double-height ark.”
The home was constructed using boat-building techniques to achieve its curved forms. The barrel-vaulted wood framed were built offsite and lifted into place atop a two-level rectilinear base.
The ground floor—contained within the home’s rectangular base—holds two bedrooms and opens into the garden. The oval-shaped first floor features an elegant kitchen and eating area connected to a curved living room with a Juliette balcony overlooking the rear garden.
The top floor provides access to a terrace above the front entrance as well as to the glassed-in conservatory space with its pale yellow floor, green planters, and blue built-in desk. The oculus skylight can be opened for ventilation.
Russum met two of Birds Portchmouth Russum’s other three cofounders while working for postmodern architect James Stirling, and the PoMo flavor continues to pervade the firm’s work.
This house is currently one of seven homes shortlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects’s House of the Year award, an honor given to this funhouse full of tricks in 2016.