In the latest in the AJ’s ongoing series looking at influential housing plans, Teresa Borsuk chooses Edward Cullinan’s Camden Mews in London
As a student, I lived across the road from 62 Camden Mews and I heard Ted Cullinan give a talk about his house.
Ted showed a few slides and I was immediately taken by the strong link between the drawings and the essence of the home. Of course one should expect that. But it is not just what was drawn but also what is evoked. The style and content of the drawings are carefully aligned with the process and product. They are at one.
The drawings are simple, clear and controlled
The house is efficient and logical. The drawings are simple, clear and controlled. They exude thoughtfulness, economy and charm. They have an enchanting quality. There are considered references to human occupation. Both plans and sections demonstrate the enormous value of space and its very careful and effective use. The party wall diminishes in thickness as it rises; the upper floor projects over the lower one and the rooms have been developed around modules of furniture. I remember Ted saying that the width of the house was determined by the length of a bed – or the equivalent of three kitchen units, a wall and a passage.
What is drawn also depicts the actual process of the self-build. (The house was built by the Cullinans over two years of weekends.)
Was this the first house in Camden Mews not to straddle its plot? The house counter-intuitively takes up half the site frontage and extends from front to back – this copes with two existing trees and allows for a long south-west facing elevation opening on to a first floor terrace, optimising aspect, outlook and amenity. The sections joyfully express this.
The house is now over 50 years old, it is grade II*-listed and still occupied by the Cullinans. The drawings continue to delight. Magical.
Teresa Borsuk is a partner at Pollard Thomas Edwards and 2015 AJ Woman Architect of the Year