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Arts and craftsmanship: Kenwood Lee House by Cousins & Cousins


A conventional frontage gives way to a sheer glazed rear elevation in this 650m² home in Highgate, north London

The four-storey house with basement is in the Highgate Conservation Area and is surrounded by Arts and Crafts properties. It includes an open plan kitchen, living and dining room, seven bedrooms, cinema, gym, spa and swimming pool.

Externally the house is conceived as a double-fronted villa referencing the predominately brick streetscape. The rear of the property takes the form of a full-width glazed mansard with pre-patinated zinc cladding to the sides. The back elevation is entirely glazed, shaded by a series of hardwood shutters which allow the rear to be as open as possible to the garden.

171123 cousins sheldonave 047

171123 cousins sheldonave 047

Architect’s view

Kenwood Lee House is built on a challenging site, set within the Highgate Conservation Area which is characterised by a distinct Arts and Crafts ‘Quennellian’ vernacular. Our design approach drew inspiration from the surrounding streetscape and the wider Arts and Crafts movement to create a unique and contextual design.

Our client required a modern, light-filled, high-quality home that sensitively responds to the needs of their family. The resulting design has a strong influence on the quality of their lives and their sense of belonging within the local community.

Highgate house drawings 6

Highgate house drawings 6

Internal spaces are anchored around a board-marked concrete core which forms a triple-height atrium. The design plays with scale and form, providing a composed sense of calm throughout. The building takes the occupant on a journey from the minutiae and intimacy of its material detail, through to the generous volumes and light of its circulation spaces.

Our client, also the main contractor, encouraged all parties to focus on delivering quality and craftsmanship throughout the process. Construction took place over a two-year period, and every effort was made to express the value and efficacy of its material form. Meticulous detailing emphasises a sense of solidity and longevity, which further promotes the project’s goals: to fulfil a wider societal role by conceiving of a building that will far outlive its component parts.

Project data

Start on site Nov 2014
Completion Nov 2017
Gross internal floor area 650m2
Procurement route Self build
Architect Cousins & Cousins
Client Private
Structural engineer Form SD
M&E consultant Medick Waring
Glazing Sky Frame & Vitrosca
Approved building inspector Assent Building Control
Main contractor NewWave London
CAD software used Microstation 


Readers' comments (4)

  • 'Conventional frontage' - with no obvious sign of support at the left hand corner?

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  • I think it's called a cantilver.

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  • ….or even a cantilever (oops).

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  • How on earth is this arts and crafts? It looks sterile enough for surgery to be performed in it. You can't just say that you've been inspired by arts and crafts, you have to actually, you know, design something that isn't modernist in every way. The lines are so clean and straight you'd get a papercut just walking up the stairs.

    It's a lovely house. But arts and crafts it ain't.

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