Surrounded by trees and situated off a peaceful passage in Honor Oak, is this wonderful three-bedroom detached house with study and private garden. One of seven properties on Segal Close, the property was built in the early 1980s using the ‘Segal Method’, a system of design and construction pioneered by the celebrated Swiss architect Walter Segal.
The community formed part of the first phase of a council-run self-build housing scheme that enabled ordinary people to build and design their own homes. The method employed readily available materials to create lightweight timber frames, similar to those used in traditional Japanese architecture, minimising the need for excessive foundations and specialist skills. Although built using the same method of construction, the houses were designed with flexibility in mind. Each one is different, and many of them have been adapted and extended since they were built.
A picturesque footpath approaches the house with entrance via a decked courtyard. Due to extensive amounts of glazing throughout, the house receives exceptional natural light, to particularly dramatic effect in the large open-plan living room, kitchen and dining area. The wide timber-framed windows are double-glazed and embrace the surrounding foliage to blur the boundaries between interior and exterior (the opening / sliding windows are single glazed). Glazed double doors open to a dining terrace with elevated views over a canopy of trees to the south. From here, a set of steps descends to a landscaped garden, with further decking, and a large storage area beneath the house. A further external storage cupboard is located by the front door.
A corridor, illuminated by a roof light, leads to the three bedrooms, two with built-in wardrobes, one with a skylight and another with direct external access. The master has an adjoining study area with wardrobe space and a protruding bay window with views of the side terrace. Opposite is a family bathroom and a separate utility room.
This particular house once belonged to Jon Broome, an architect who worked with Walter Segal and was instrumental in enabling the Lewisham self-build scheme. Broome built the house & designed some of its features including the suspended shelving. The property has also made an appearance in two publications, ‘The Self Build House’ by Jon Broome & Brian Richardson, and ‘Walters Way & Segal Close’ by Taran Wilkhu & Alice Grahame.
Segal Close is a short walk from Honor Oak Park station, which runs regular fast services into London Bridge station with a journey time of around 12 minutes. The station also runs London Overground services, with Shoreditch High Street and Highbury and Islington to the north and Crystal Palace and West Croydon to the south. Shopping and dining opportunities are available in nearby East Dulwich, Honor Oak, Forest Hill and Brockley. Blythe Hill Fields, a large park area, is a five-minute walk away, and both Dulwich Village and Forest Hill, with the Horniman Musuem, are also close by. The area has a number of well-regarded primary schools, such as Rose House Montessori Primary, Dalmain Primary and Kilmorie Primary, and is within the catchment for the highly sought-after Stillness Primary School. The excellent fee-paying St. Dunstan’s College is a short walk away.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
Walter Segal was a visionary architect who was born in Switzerland but spent most of his working life in the UK. One of the most fascinating figures of late 20th-century architecture, he was a Modernist who maintained an interest in traditional building techniques.
Segal trained in Berlin, a city that was at the forefront of Modernism, and moved to London in 1936. It wasn’t until the 1960s, however, that he began to gain recognition for his ideas and methods. Today, Segal’s reputation continues to rise – not least because of his environmentally friendly approach to building.
The so-called ‘Segal Method’ was a way of building that eliminated the need for various processes such as a brick-laying, cement-pouring and other techniques that Segal considered superfluous to the construction of a good house. Instead, he advocated a modular, timber-frame system that is reminiscent of 19th-century American houses or traditional Japanese architecture.
Segal himself was much influenced by the egalitarian principles of William Morris, as well as the early Modernists. “The buildings of the International Style”, he wrote, “were by definition unassuming… They were meant to promote wellbeing.” Segal was also inspired by traditional building principles, particularly those of Japan. In an essay about the architect, Colin Ward wrote, “In his life, as well as his work, he tried to pare away the superfluous and concentrate on the important.”