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More memories of Nicholas Saunders

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Letters

Paul Hyett's column (AJ 12.2.98) on Nicholas Saunders brought back fond and frustrating memories of our early married life, when we lived in the first-floor flat of 65 Edith Grove, between 1977 and 1981.

The flat, which had been designed by Nicholas Saunders, was utterly bizarre, with an octagonal hall, every side of which was a door.

Each door opened into a curiously shaped room, including a wedgeshaped loo - except the eighth door, which opened on to a mirror.

The wall-hung combination boiler was located at skirting level, in the back of a chimney recess behind the sink unit in the kitchen, and every time the pilot light went out, which was usually once a night, John used to have to lie flat on the kitchen floor and reach through the back of the sink unit, holding the flap open while pressing in a red knob for about 30 seconds.

One night, we decided to plumb in a washing machine - encouraged by one of my fellow architects in Rick Mather's office, who informed us that plumbing was 'easy'. All went well - the spaghetti was on the boil, and John and Mark had virtually completed the installation with only one joint left to do. It was at this point that they cut through a rising main with a hacksaw, thinking that it was the cold-water supply to the loo, which they had previously isolated. It then became clear, as water flowed rapidly through the building, that there was no way to shut off the water supply at all, and we had to call out the Water Board at midnight to shut off the entire supply to the house. The next morning, we bought a copy of Alternative London, as we decided it might give us some insight into how the plumbing was designed. It did - and was also invaluable when it came to electrics, which had also been installed in a unique manner.

Now, the building has lost all its batty features, and looks rather seedy, but it was a brilliant example of undeterred imagination. There should be more buildings converted in this way - even if they are a bit trying to live in!

PENNY RICHARDS Pringle Richards Sharratt, London SW10

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