"How The Modern House transformed our search for the perfect home"... The Financial Times talks to our founders Albert Hill and Matt Gibberd
“It looks like a concrete Jenga puzzle. It’s the most divisive structure you could ever build.”
Albert Hill, intensely enthusiastic, is discussing the “obtuse” Housden House, a Grade-II listed modernist chunk of concrete and glass, built in 1965 by the British architect Brian Housden in one of London’s swankiest streets. “In no way is it polite to its context, and this is a constant debate within residential architecture: how contextual should stuff be?”
The house is jammed into a polite Georgian terrace and overlooking — some might say turning its back on — Hampstead Heath and No 1 Pond. Last year it was marketed by the Modern House, the estate agency Hill co-founded with Matt Gibberd, for £3.2m.
“It’s singular to an absurd extent,” continues Gibberd. “[Housden] put in this system of ceiling tracks where you can divide the space by pulling curtains across. The dining area is a circular and sunken affair. It’s dictatorial in the way it is set out. So the person we sold it to is going to have to subscribe to Brian Housden’s vision of living.”
If Hill and Gibberd sound more like academically-inclined architects than high street estate agents, it is partly because that is how they perceive the company they founded in 2005. Housden House may be unpopular in some quarters, but to many it is a defining example of postwar British residential architecture — as are many of the homes the Modern House sells. From white-bricked offices in Southwark — acquired to accommodate a staff of 24 and converted from a 1930s chapel — the two 41-year-old former journalists explain how their agency evolved from their obsession with modernist design into a fast-growing concern; the difficulties posed by Brexit uncertainty and the limits of a business model aimed at a coterie.
If you have a beautiful home and are curious about its value, we’d love to hear from you.