The architects Sutherland Hussey, now Sutherland Hussey Harris, conceived Barnhouse as three distinct buildings linked together by a south-facing conservatory, each with a different character and with a strong, robust emphasis on textures and materials. The house works with the topography to allow all rooms, a progression of increasingly private spaces, to respond to the movement of the sun and allow natural light to penetrate deep into the interior. It responds intimately to the landscape, with dynamic living spaces at a variety of levels set around courtyards and terraces with mature trees.
Barnhouse is one of Britain's most architecturally significant contemporary houses and has never previously been offered for sale. Winner of the prestigious AJ First Building Award at the Stirling Prize ceremony in 2002, it was designed by Charlie Sutherland, who was the architect responsible for the new British Embassy in Berlin while at Stirling/Wilford.
The house is set behind the historic 18th-century Highgate High Street, deep into its quarter-acre site, providing complete privacy and tranquillity yet enjoying the convenience of the Village. A rarefied refuge from the city, it responds intimately with the landscape by taking advantage of mature trees and distant views. There is approximately 6,000 sq ft of residential floor area, plus additional retail, integral garaging and covered courtyard space.
The intention of the project was to unite the new house with the pre-existing buildings on the substantial site, to create an integrated living and working environment rarely found in London. As well as the four-bedroom main house, there is an original timber-clad barn, which was previously used as an artist's studio and would make the perfect writer's retreat or guest house this has a dramatic double-volume kitchen area with high windows onto the garden, and a pretty bedroom and bathroom. Further, incorporated as part of the original site is a paneled three / four-bedroom apartment, ideal for family or a service flat, above the interesting little shop that opens with a separate entrance onto the High Street. This is covered by a rare historic wooden canopy across the pavement, built to protect the original butcher's shop from the sun and now marking the entrance to Barnhouse.
Progressing from the High Street, past the flat and the barn through an electronic architectural gate, there is car parking with an electric car charging point. As you continue through a set of original secondary gates, the land naturally drops away to reveal an apron of greenery culminating in the secluded modern house.
The entrance to the house is announced by a full-height steel front door, which opens to reveal a wonderfully dramatic interior space. From the hallway, an ingenuous ramp devised as an American Box Bridge by the engineers Techniker rises to the glorious living space on the first floor, with a wall of glazing and a balcony revealing spectacular unobstructed views over trees to Epping Forest on the horizon. There is a further balcony running the length of the house that overlooks the garden and pool. The curved ceiling, which is made from profiled steel, references the site's agricultural past, and there is a large open fireplace and a galvanized steel internal balcony seat that overhangs the kitchen below.
From the entrance hall, another industrially designed ramp directs you down to the kitchen. This is very deliberately the pivot of the house, strategically positioned at its heart, with a long crafted wooden dais. The adjacent dining room has the generosity of a medieval banqueting hall. This is a house built for entertaining, with substantial spaces that feel both interconnected and distinct. The dining room leads directly to the garden, and the kitchen windows slide open onto the pool, taking in reflections from the black engineering-brick façade and the woodland garden designed by the renowned landscape designer Dan Pearson. The fourth bedroom here opens up to an internal courtyard.
The linked pavilion building furthest away from the entrance contains two bedrooms and a bathroom on the ground floor, providing a private haven at the far corner of the site. The master bedroom and bathroom on the first floor acts almost as an autonomous apartment for the owner. It has a camera obscura set into the apex of its double-volume ceiling, and opens out onto a roof terrace with superb distant views and morning sunlight.
Barnhouse has been the subject of press articles in The World Of Interiors, The Architects' Journal and The Financial Times Magazine. Jay Merrick's review in the Arts section of the Independent concludes as follows:
Sutherland has, by using ramps, bridges and angles, created a dynamic building, a Tardis of sorts. There is no hint, when you stand outside the front door, that you are about to leave Highgate far behind. Step inside, and it's game on. Barnhouse is much more than good architecture, it's a brilliant essay in spatial manipulation and circulation. The manipulation of space, and scale and connection of the various rooms, carries with it a lucid sense of circulation. It's rather like Zaha Hadid's small but potent Museum at Weil am Rhein, in Germany, in that the observer's smallest movement rewrites the special script entirely. Barnhouse is therefore a creative environment. The house reveals itself surprisingly, perhaps even a little mysteriously; it's lively.
The house has won numerous prestigious awards for the quality of its design, including an RIBA award, the RSA Gold Medal, and the AJ First Building Award at the Stirling Prize, where the judge concluded that the architecture commands both respect and, one hopes, study and emulation.
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Highgate Village contains a wide variety of shops, cafés, pubs and restaurants. The vast open spaces of Hampstead Heath and Waterlow Park, and the ancient Highgate Wood and Queen's Wood, are all close at hand. The Northern Line at Archway provides direct access to King's Cross, the West End and the City, and there are convenient road links to the A1, leading to the M1, A406 and M25.
Highgate has excellent educational opportunities, with two top private schools, Highgate School (co-educational day school for ages 3-18) and Channing (girls' day school for ages 4-18). There are also two well-regarded state primaries, St Michael's and Highgate Primary, plus Montessori and nursery schools in Highgate Village. School buses from the Village also serve Haberdasher's Aske's & North London Collegiate.
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7 Perrin's Court
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