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Ellis Miller to refurb grade II*-listed John Winter house

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Ellis Miller Architects has been appointed to refurbish and upgrade a Grade II*-listed modernist house by John Winter in Highgate, north London

Post-war architect John Winter designed the house for his family in 1969 and lived in it until shortly before his death in 2012.

Located in the Highgate Village Conservation Area, overlooking Highgate Cemetery, the house was on the market last March with a guide price of £3.2 million.

The three-storey building is influential for its use of Cor-ten steel and was one of the first domestic uses of the material in the UK.  

Commenting on the house Neil Jackson, architectural historian, said: ‘Like a cemetery building, a crypt or a sepulchre, it needs to be private, inscrutable. But set within that context, it is also part of the Romantic landscape where the views, like in a Claude or Poussin are bucolic, of broken buildings and bowing trees.

‘The aging of the cemetery’s ivy-covered and moss-encrusted tombstones is complemented in the house’s most talked-about feature, its Cor-ten cladding. This oxidizing steel gives the building, at once, the patina of age while paradoxically placing it firmly in the last half of the twentieth century.’

Ellis Miller’s approach to the renovation of the house is to keep its original features wherever possible, preserving its ‘sense of age and patina’.

Where the Cor-ten facade is damaged beyond repair, replacement pre-pattinated cladding will be used, while all the existing glazing will be replaced with double glazing that matches the appearance of the original.

A ‘highly obtrusive’ extension was added to the house in 2006. The plans replace this with a new building that restores the complete western elevation of the original house.

A planning application for the project is set to be submitted at the end of the year.

Ellis Miller Winter House

Project data

Location 81 Swains Lane, Highgate, London
Type of project residential refurbishment and extension
Client undisclosed
Architect Ellis Miller Architects
Heritage consultant KM Heritage
Structural engineer Alan Baxter and Associates
M&E consultant SVM Consulting Engineers
Quantity surveyor Rider Hunt
Specific environmental targets Code for Sustainable Homes Level 4

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