Meet the Team: Founding Director Matt Gibberd picks the best homes that architects have designed for themselves
We’re getting to know The Modern House staff in our series Meet the Team. Here, Founding Director Matt Gibberd talks to us about the best homes that architects have designed for themselves.
Matt comes from a long line of architects – his grandfather was the celebrated Modern Movement architect Sir Frederick Gibberd – and he himself has written on architecture for the likes of Acne Paper, GQ Style, national newspapers, as well as numerous books. Matt was a Senior Editor at The World of Interiors magazine before starting The Modern House with fellow co-founder Albert Hill in 2005.
“I always think it’s fascinating to see how architects treat their own homes,” Matt says.
“They are able to look at things holistically and their vision is not diluted by clients; I think you get some of the most genuine results because of that.
“I like to see an architect’s home when they have been living in it for many years because you get a genuine sense of how they choose to occupy the space. It goes back to that Bauhaus idea of a total work of art, or Gesamtkunstwerk, and I especially like it when an architect has used their own furniture.
“And, let’s face it, architects aren’t often multi-millionaires, so it’s interesting to see how they use design to solve economic problems. A lot of the times these houses are quite modest, but all the better for it, I think.”
Longstock, Stockbridge, Hampshire by Paul Jenkins
“Longstock is a really quiet village in the Test Valley, full of thatched cottages. And then you have this. It’s great to walk through the village and come across this uncompromising modern structure emerging from behind a flint and brick wall.
“I think it’s just a beautiful shape. I like how it references the local vernacular, being very barn-like. But the steep double-pitched roof and the fact that there’s no visible guttering make it a clean, modern silhouette.
“It’s the single treatment of roof and walls, and that there’s no obvious junction between the two, that excites me most about this one. It’s very crisp.”
“Plus, the house is next door to one of my favourite pubs, The Peat Spade.”
Crowan, Cornwall by Amin Taha
“There’s something really pleasing about when an accomplished architect chooses to make an intervention into an existing building. This is a really good example of that.
“I think that double-height dining space is a really remarkable room – one of the best I’ve seen. There’s the old brick on the floor and the walls have been left deliberately rough and raw, but it still has the grandeur of a medieval banqueting hall.
“I also like the modest kitchen extension, which has quite a light touch. It sits very well against the old walls of the original building.
“I think I’d be very happy there, in that serene countryside. It feels genuine, and that it’s been there forever.”
Housden House, South Hill Park, London NW3 by Brian Housden
“I think this is one of a handful of genuinely museum-quality, architecturally-significant houses in London.
“It’s such a bold vision, and quite obtuse in some ways: it’s amazingly-located overlooking Hampstead Heath and the ponds, but a lot of the design is not really about embracing that view. It’s more about trying to refract the light in interesting ways.
“The way it is arranged is quite prescriptive: the beds are built in, the dining area is in a deliberately-placed sunken circular pit, so you can only really live in it in one way – that’s fascinating to me.
“The concrete staircase is so sculptural and beautiful, and I like the way all the services are surface-mounted; it’s very Corbusian in that respect.”
Runcton, Chichester, West Sussex by Walter Greaves
“Like Housden House, this house had never previously been on the market before we were instructed to sell it by Walter Greaves’ family.
“It’s modest but extremely genuine. I like the fact that the placement of the windows isn’t obvious: the views of the surrounding landscape are carefully framed, and clerestory windows feed light in from above. Top light is always the best.
“The sitting room in this house is one of my all-time favourite rooms, I think, with the pitched roof and the giant Noguchi paper light shade – there’s something slightly absurdist about how it lurks between the rafters, like a giant moon.”
The Lubetkin Penthouse, Highpoint II, North Hill, London N6 by Berthold Lubetkin
“I get a really good view of Highpoint from my house in Highgate, and I lived in the area when I was younger, so the building has always featured in my life in some way.
“I don’t think we should underestimate what an incredibly bold building this would have been when it sprung up in the 1930s. The International Style was very radical when it came to London from continental Europe.
“It was a new era for architecture and for building methods, and would have been pretty divisive, as Lubetkin himself was.
“When it was completed in 1938, Lubetkin’s own penthouse was considered to be the highest in London due to its elevated position on North Hill. It has a barrel-vaulted ceiling, and doors that fold back to reveal the most amazing long-distance views.
“The flat has retained some of its original furniture, including a pair of chairs designed by Lubetkin from hand-chosen lengths of Norwegian yew and cow hide from Argentina.”