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House and attached garage

A Grade II* Listed Building in Cantelowes, London

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Latitude: 51.5465 / 51°32'47"N

Longitude: -0.131 / 0°7'51"W

OS Eastings: 529696

OS Northings: 184724

OS Grid: TQ296847

Mapcode National: GBR FQ.7N2

Mapcode Global: VHGQS.PD39

Plus Code: 9C3XGVW9+JJ

Entry Name: House and attached garage

Listing Date: 15 May 2007

Grade: II*

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1392599

English Heritage Legacy ID: 501737

ID on this website: 101392599

Location: Lower Holloway, Camden, London, NW1

County: London

District: Camden

Electoral Ward/Division: Cantelowes

Parish: Non Civil Parish

Built-Up Area: Camden

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St Pancras Old Church

Church of England Diocese: London

Tagged with: House

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CAMDEN MEWS (east side),
62, House and attached garage



Private house. 1962-65. Designed by Edward Cullinan as his family home, and built by Cullinan, his wife Ros and their friends at weekends.

Two storeys high, constructed in in-situ board-marked concrete posts and beams, supported on the rear party wall, from which the first-floor overhanging timber-framed structure is cantilevered. Rear wall, ground floor of house, and garage of second-hand stock brick, paviours to steps (and surrounding courtyard) are blue engineering bricks. Optimum use of the small site was made by placing the house a right-angles to the mews on a party wall along the northern boundary, maximising light by placing the open-plan living, dining and kitchen areas in a largely glazed first-floor gallery; three bedrooms and a bathroom are enclosed below.

EXTERIOR: the top courses of the brick ground floor are staggered inwards. Above this is exposed concrete framing with narrow, horizontal clerestory windows lighting the ground-floor rooms. Ground floor has central entrance on south elevation; glazed timber entrance door with square margin lights. Upper floor is in exposed timber, cantilevered on south elevation with exposed oversailing joist-ends. Narrow horizontal windows, aligned with those to ground floor, light the floor level of the upper room. Large horizontal timber windows to upper west, south and east elevations; those flanking central entrance on south side are square. Windows to west elevation have external timber Venetian blinds. The upper area is reached via external stairs across the garage roof, which is decked over to form a terrace. Bridge link between house and garage serves as a porch. Very shallow, slightly stepped, monopitch roof with oversailing rafters on south elevation.

The roughness of the post-and-beam construction makes an immediate impression, as does the comparatively high quality of the massive-scaled joinery of the windows, which are set forward with big sills. The separation of different materials in different planes by means of cantilevered beams is one of the features of the complex south elevation. The upper area is reached via external stairs across the garage roof, which is decked over to form a terrace. Bridge link between house and garage serves as a porch to ground-floor entrance.

INTERIOR: inside the construction materials are again expressed in concrete posts, boarded ceilings carried on exposed joists; paint is reserved for the brick walls of the ground-floor rooms. Built-in cupboards and bookcases line the area cantilevered area of the upper-floor living space; built-in kitchen area in centre to the side of the narrow central stairwell. Plain concrete stair. Flush panel timber doors. Tiled floor to ground floor.

HISTORY: Cullinan is perhaps the best known of all the architects working in a heavyweight vernacular tradition, also known as 'romantic pragmatism'. His own house supplied an accessible and widely-imitated model. Cullinan studied at Cambridge; when he went on in 1954 to the AA he joined the year where Ahrends, Burton and Koralek were already noted admirers of Frank Lloyd Wright. In 1956 he won a Fellowship and went to Berkeley, California, for a year. He met Wright and saw his work at first hand, but was also introduced to that of Greene and Greene, the Craftsman tradition of honest timber construction; and in particular to the work of Rudolf Schindler, whose love of materials and hands-on attitude to assembling them in a piecemeal, expressive way begins to explain Cullinan's own approach. Already Cullinan had reconstructed the derelict Bell Tout lighthouse on the South Downs for his father while at the AA, using detailing from Le Corbusier. After his return from Berkeley he worked part-time for Denys Lasdun, while producing a series of small houses for friends and family that he largely built himself.

Cullinan's house is an early exponent of the ingredients of Romantic Pragmatism, which combined natural and modern materials, vernacular and early modern references and a strongly focused, site-specific, design. The fa├žade of 62 Camden Mews has materials mastering and oversailing one another and avoids the partial sophistication of 'flushness and hidden detailing'. Every element of the simple design is in a slightly different plane. It inspired a series of small mews houses, especially in the Camden Square area where unbuilt backlack sites were beginning to be developed by architects in the 1960s, and it also defined a typology for Cullinan's subsequent houses.

While building the house at weekends, Cullinan was working for Denys Lasdun at Christ's College, Cambridge, and the University of East Anglia, and the forecourt of 62 Camden Mews is paved with blue bricks rejected from Lasdun's Royal College of Physicians. 'Its "indoors" and its "outdoors" are made of the same bits occupying the whole space created by North and South party walls and the ground; ... it collects sun', Cullinan wrote in 1984.

SUMMARY OF IMPORTANCE: Of major interest as an early and highly influential work of Edward Cullinan, which occupies a seminal position in the development of the private small house. In the national context, it has major architectural interest and survives virtually intact. It thus fulfils the criteria for listing at Grade II*.

SOURCES: Edward Cullinan, 'Building them yourself', in Edward Cullinan Architects, London, RIBA Publications, 1984, p 6; Miranda Newton, Architects' London Houses, Butterworth, 1992, pp 44-9. Kenneth Powell, Edward Cullinan Architects, London Academy Editions, 1995, pp 11-60; Bridget Cherry and Nikolaus Pevsner, The Buildings of England, London 4: North, 1998, p 391

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