History in Structure

The Light House, including hard landscaping and summer house to the rear garden

A Grade II Listed Building in Frognal and Fitzjohns, Camden

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Latitude: 51.5613 / 51°33'40"N

Longitude: -0.1871 / 0°11'13"W

OS Eastings: 525763

OS Northings: 186266

OS Grid: TQ257862

Mapcode National: GBR C5.CJ1

Mapcode Global: VHGQR.P0YZ

Plus Code: 9C3XHR67+G5

Entry Name: The Light House, including hard landscaping and summer house to the rear garden

Listing Date: 23 October 2023

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1484536

ID on this website: 101484536

County: Camden

Electoral Ward/Division: Frognal and Fitzjohns

Built-Up Area: Camden

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London


Post-Modern house with hard landscaping and summer house to the garden, designed in 1983 and built between 1984 and 1985 to designs by architect Ivan Simovic for his family.


Post-Modernist house, designed 1983 and built between 1984 and 1985 to designs by architect Ivan Simovic for his family.

MATERIALS: steel-framed structure with concrete floorplates and brick and concrete wall construction.

PLAN: the house occupies a wedge-shaped plot on the curved north-eastern end of Redington Road. The site widens from the width of a double garage at the front to over 14m in the rear garden. The lower-ground floor is an open-plan social and entertaining space, accessed via a descending, curved ramp from the main entrance at the west end and opening out to the garden to the east. A compact kitchen occupies the narrowest portion at the west side of the lower-ground floor, with bedrooms, bathrooms and a study to the upper level, connected by (and with views onto) the full-height, top-lit central core of the house.

EXTERIOR: the façade can just be seen from Redington Road, being set back and largely obscured by the neighbouring houses. The narrow, single-storey elevation to Redington Road has a central entrance, set beneath a timber-clad cylindrical drum (the original water tank) with three steps and flanking orange pipes, emulating the formal, classical surrounds seen along Redington Road. Off-set to the right is a stepped-back wall section, with a tall, narrow window. The external walls are of stock brick punctuated by regular bands of red bricks laid in header bond. The garden elevation is curved with a stepped cut-away section to the north, with the brickwork giving way to the full-height grid of glazing onto the garden. A band of lead sheeting runs along the top of the glazing. The south end of the rear elevation has an angled projection with further full-height glazing. This projection terminates with a tall brick chimney with an octagonal form. A concrete column support with distinctive coiled shutter marking projects out from this part of the rear elevation into the garden, tied to the house with a concrete beam and capped with a lamp. The walls throughout carry through the banded stock and red brick form of the street-facing elevation. The south-western and north sides have blind flank elevations.

INTERIOR: the design and arrangement of the interior of the Light House consists of complex interconnected levels and spaces formed with curved internal walls, many with openings to give views onto the open-plan social space to the lower-ground floor, which is the focal point and hub of the house. The interior was conceived of by Simovic as an outer shell divided from the inner volume by several intermediate spaces, these in the form of a double-height curved volume to the garden and a ramp from the main entrance. On entering from the rear garden, the double-height area separates the elevation from the two rear bedrooms to the upper level, which are themselves separated by a narrow opening that gives glimpses through to the central full-height space from the east. From the Redington Road side, a relatively tight entrance leads through to the top of the ramp which gives an open view through the building and access to the lower floor, via either the curved ramp along the northern side or the central spiral stair, with tubular steel balusters. The ramp has recessed shelving and seating, forming both a reading space and a dramatic entranceway into the main living area. This curved ramp reveals the space between the outer shell and inner volumes, with views cutting through the house and onto the garden. The inner walls are expressed as simple, white, curvilinear forms against the brickwork and glass of the outer wall. This distinction in wall treatments, together with the varied levels, central full-height and top-lit space, and the various internal openings give an impression of space within what is, in fact, a relatively compact building.

The whole lower-ground floor functions as an open entertaining and living space. This consists of a formal dining area to the centre, designed to be capable of seating 50 people, with informal seating areas adjacent to the ramp, marked-out with original fitted seating, and to the south-eastern corner, which has an inset fireplace. The whole space has a white and red marble-tiled floor, forming a grid pattern, with all fitted shelving and cupboards being original to the design. Openings and gaps in horizontal and vertical surfaces offer glimpses of space and light through cut-outs in the upper levels of the external walls and between internal spaces so that depth and light are perceived beyond this area. The central full-height space brings direct daylight deep into the single-aspect floor plate, which is reflected and diffused by the curved white surfaces. One of the central aspects of the design was the deliberate control of light and shadow, which informed the detailing of the inner volumes, revealing elements of structure or distinguishing planes to create highlights and deep shadows.

At the west end of the lower-ground level is a compact kitchen, divided by a curved wall with a door to the south and a central cut-through with a stepped form to reveal the living area. The kitchen is flanked to the north by a utility room, a photographic dark room (now a store), and a small, semi-circular breakfast area, arranged around a fitted bench and table.

To the upper floor, there are two bedrooms (each with private bathrooms), a study and a family bathroom. These rooms are connected by an L-shaped landing with original integrated shelving and cupboards, lit by the central glazed roof section to the full-height core of the house. There is further original, fitted storage in the bedrooms. Each of the rooms is partially lit by glazed roof panels; this being the principal light source for the master bedroom to the west end. The northernmost bedroom, designed as a child’s room, has a circular form with a ladder giving to access a small mezzanine play area within the central roof space. The study/bedroom to the south-east side has an opening to the main social space with a small snug with an integrated bench and tubular steel baluster that overlooks the fireside area of the main living area. Throughout the upper floor, the steel roof structure is exposed, and the shallow, multi-pitched roof form is expressed.

SUBSIDIARY FEATURES: the summer house to the end of the garden, designed with varied light and red stained timber to match the colours of the house, together with the brick footpaths and the mosaic paving sections were designed as part of the original concept by Simovic.


The Light House was designed in 1983 by Ivan Simovic as a home for his family. The site, an undeveloped wedge of land between the back gardens of two large houses on Redington Road in Hampstead, was an unusual and challenging one. The plot had been for sale for many years, being perceived as difficult to build on owing to the narrow access, local policy discouraging backland development and objections from neighbours. The constraints required a novel design solution to make a viable scheme, which Simovic produced in the form of a complex arrangement of interlocking internal spaces split over varied levels, working with the natural topography of the site to maximise light and space whilst minimising the visibility from neighbouring houses. The land was acquired in January 1983, with plans developed throughout the year. Planning permission for was obtained in October 1983 and work to prepare the site began in 1984. Samuely and Partners handled the off-site prefabrication of the house’s steel structure, which allowed the main structural framework to be constructed on its concrete platform in just two days. The house was inhabited in July 1985, though internal work continued until December 1985. In July 1990, the house was featured as an 'ingenious' example of backland development by architectural critic Martin Pawley, noted as a growing specialised area of urban architectural design into the late C20 (‘The invisible architects’, The Observer (Arts Section), 9 July 1990, p17).

Ivan Simovic (1932-2012) was born in Novi Sad, Yugoslavia (now Serbia) and studied Architecture and Engineering at the Belgrade Academy of Applied Arts and Urban Planning at the Architectural Association in London. He began his architectural career in New Belgrade as part of a team of five young architects known as the ‘Belgrade Five’ who were responsible for a number of large-scale housing schemes. Simovic emigrated to the UK in 1964 and established an architectural career in London, becoming a partner in Ted Levy, Benjamin and Partners and later with Bickerdike Allen Simovic. Aside from the Light House, Simovic’s work included 1-2 Connaught Gardens / 94 Woodland Rise, a group of three houses in Muswell Hill (Architectural Review, November 1976, pp304-6); and, with Lionel Friedland, the extensive Post-Modernist Firecrest development in Hampstead (1984-1986), a group of 18 houses and 30 flats on the site of Spedan Towers. Simovic was a runner-up in the Australian Parliament competition (Architects’ Journal, 5 November 1980, pp866-9) and later won the design competition for a masterplan for Swiss Cottage (Building Design, 12 June 1981, pp12-13).

Reasons for Listing

The Light House, 68 Redington Road, built 1984-1985 to the designs of Ivan Simovic, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:

Architectural interest:

* as a contextual and intricate design for a constrained garden plot, demonstrating meticulous internal planning to maximise spatial efficiency and skilful handling of natural lighting, wall openings and circulation through the house, which all combine to dramatic effect;
* as a sophisticated expression of Post-Modern architectural ideas and design tropes in the context of a small-scale domestic project.

Historic interest:

* as a particularly successful example of a ‘backland’ development scheme, an important type of urban building project into the 1970s and 1980s, reflected in the house being celebrated in the national press as an ‘ingenious’ example of space utilisation and site planning within a tight plot;
* for the completeness of the survival of a bespoke architect’s home of evident quality, the house presents a distinctive example of this important category of post-war housing design.

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