“A slice of tropical modernism in Montpelier, taking cues from Geoffrey Bawa and Luis Barragan”
Inspired by the modernist vernaculars of Sri Lanka and Mexico, this brilliant house, designed and built in 2022 by the architect Mathew Ingham and Ami Spencer, occupies an excellent position in the centre of Montpelier, Bristol. Orientated around a leafy central courtyard, the beautifully light interior spaces of around 1,400 sq ft are defined by a material palette of concrete, glass, and Sapele wood. Montpelier is one of Bristol’s most vibrant and sought-after neighbourhoods, with its excellent selection of independent restaurants, shops and cafes a short walk away. Both the city centre and Bristol Temple Meads station can be reached in around 20 minutes on foot.
We’ve written about life in this house in more depth.
On the approach, a series of pale concrete geometric forms shape the impressive architectural profile. With the feel of Japanese shoji, the entrance is set discreetly behind a sliding slatted timber frame door, leading into a panelled vestibule with cloakroom storage, and through to the central plan.
Internally, the layout demonstrates a masterly command of space, light, and materials. In careful gridding of the footprint, the living areas have been cleverly conceived to harbour both individual and communal activity, appropriately orientated to provide privacy, the best natural daylight, and a continuous visual link to the outside space. With a sophisticated yet modest aesthetic, the interior is characterised by sealed bare plaster, bringing soft colouring and texture to the walls, and polished concrete running underfoot. Hand-crafted, sapele wood glass doors open the entire space onto the central courtyard, forming a seamless merging of the interior and exterior spaces.
Clean lines of bespoke cabinetry run the length of the arterial wall, defining the kitchen worktops, and neatly housing appliances and storage. Living and dining spaces offer great versatility on either side of the ground level. A study or homeworking space is tucked into one corner, with bevelled glass doors allowing easy division, or an open sociable flow.
An expansive skylight softly illuminates the solid timber staircase, ascending to a generous open landing where a large glass wall brings an excellent quality of natural light to this section of the house. There is ample room here for a second workspace or a dressing room.
The two bedrooms are quiet retreats. Floor-to-ceiling joinery in the main bedroom forms a generous provision of wardrobe and storage space, and a huge picture window brings a soft light through the course of the day. The en suite shower room has been finished in micro-cement, with a poured concrete sink bringing material continuity, and a long glass panel strategically placed overhead to bring the outside in. The second bedroom lies on the opposite side of the upper level, and the family bathroom, complete with a large free-standing bathtub, is positioned centrally.
Taking cues from Geoffrey Bawa and Luis Barragan, the outside spaces bring a slice of tropical modernism to an urban setting, forming an integral part of the overall experience of the house. Pops of International Klein Blue add a playful touch against shades of green, leafy beds and mature Dicksonia tree ferns. A long concrete bench has been ideally positioned to soak up the sun or stargaze at moonlit skies.
Montpelier is one of the city’s most vibrant neighbourhoods, with a brilliant choice of independent shops, cafes and restaurants within easy walking distance. Neighbourhood favourites include Bianchis, a refined restaurant with a northern Italian menu, and The Cadbury, a 300-year-old timber-framed pub with a walled garden and a great selection of craft ales. Nearby Picton Street is home to several independent food shops including C&T Licata, a long-standing Italian delicatessen. For authentic Korean tong dak and kimchi fried rice, head to Bokman, halfway up Nine Tree Hill in Stokes Croft, around a 10-minute walk away.
The city centre can be reached on foot in around 15-20 minutes. Well-served for cultural activities and annual festivals, Bristol city has a thriving art and music scene; Arnolfini and Spike Island lead a well-regarded programme of contemporary exhibitions and performances. The Watershed, a well-loved institution located along the city centre’s harbourside, hosts talks and events alongside its programme of international film screenings. The broader independent food scene in Bristol has shot up in recent years, with heaps of restaurants cropping up in the centre and throughout the city’s neighbourhoods. Notable highlights include Wilsons, an excellent, independently owned bistro on Chandos Road, Redland, co-founded in 2016 by partners Jan Ostle & Mary Wilson, and for pasta, Little Hollows is a few doors down. Casa, the excellent new outpost from Michelin-starred chef Peter Sanchez Iglesias, is set on the harbourside, and Cotto in the city centre has great modern Italian menus.
Occupying the ground floor of a beautiful Grade II listed building on Baldwin Street, Marmo has an Italian-focused menu and a great organic and biodynamic wine list created by former St John / Luca couple Cosmo and Lily Sterck. Two notable family-run neighbourhood restaurants Cor and Sonny Stores, are set on the city’s south side. Farro is the spot for modern viennoiserie, sourdough, soft serve in the summer, and for coffee, New Cut Coffee, Small Street Espresso and Full Court Press. For sourdough pizza, head east to The Red Church or G Brothers – or for a glass of wine and a small plate, Cave or Kask.
Surrounded by open countryside, the area is great for walking, running and cycling. Tyntesfield and Ashton Court, an 850-acre country estate with a deer park, golf courses, cafés, and gardens, are both within a 10-minute drive away.
Excellent schools are nearby, including Backwell School, Badminton School, Bristol Grammar School and Redmaid’s High School.
The intercity train runs directly from Montpelier Station (a five-minute walk from the house) to Bristol Temple Meads in around 17 minutes. Direct services from Bristol Temple Meads run to London Paddington in around an hour and 40 minutes.
Council Tax Band: D
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.