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Grand Designs – another look

Grand Designs – another look

Our old mate Kevin McLoud is back revisiting his old mates from the successful TV series, Grand Designs, to see how they are getting on after living in their dream homes for a few years.

I caught the episode that revisited the couple of architects who decided to build next to the railway line in Islington in North London. The site was a large one by London standards, it had been a factory or workshop, but the fascinating part of the whole episode was the design of their home / office.

Because the railway line ran on the boundary where the office was situated, they set the structure on springs to absorb the vibrations from the passing trains.

They soundproofed the wall facing the railway by building it completely of sandbags mortared with cement, then clad the rest of the structure with quilted fabric.

Just to extend the quirky design theme further, they decided to build the home part of their design, separate from the office, out of straw bales on a wooden frame.
The walls had curves, which are achievable with bales, the outside cladding was a mix of corrugated steel and polycarbonate, this to make a design feature of the straw which was clearly visible through the corrugations of the polycarbonate.

The curves inside were lined in huge sheets of plywood, looking wonderful with what looked like a waxed finish, and the whole site was designed to look back down into a garden which linked the structures, providing an oasis and also growing food for the residents.

I could not help but wish we could all have the freedom to design our homes to suit ourselves.

Yours in Design,


Belinda Vesey-Brown About the author
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