A few days ago, Sarah Hollywood attended an auction for a house in Lewisham, south London, designed byWalter Segal, a pioneer of self-build housing.
It was a typical Segal house, made of timber and raised on stilts, and it had superb views. Hollywood says: 'It was falling to pieces. The roof was caving in but I felt it was manageable. I thought I could do something with the roof, and put a veranda on the front, where there was quite a lot of space.'
Hollywood, who worked with architect Urban Salon as stylist for the Orange House project (see page 30), said the house reminded her of a beach hut in Whitstable, Kent, which is owned by friends: 'It's very similar - timber, dead simple, looking out to sea.'
At first she thought that the house 'didn't seem to have much soul'. She says: 'We were trying to make it much more approachable and give it character by putting faces on the fictional family occupants.' The soul and character of a place are important to Hollywood. When she visited the Soane Museum for the first time, and saw it entirely lit by candles, she thought it 'the most romantic building in London'.
In the meantime, she had set her heart on a humble, singlestorey Segal house, a world away from Soane's fantasia.
Unfortunately, she was outbid and her quest continues.