‘Cloud House’ couple unveil design for fairytale home in Gospel Oak
Exclusive: Vicars Road could see an eye-catching new property
29 February, 2020 — By Dan Carrier
The Cloud House design
IT is called The Cloud House, and has been likened to something Walt Disney might have conjured up on a cartoon story board. But instead of being in the realms of Hollywood fantasy, this extraordinary piece of architecture could soon be coming to a small back street in Gospel Oak.
The house is the vision of architect Peter Morris and TV producer Emily Kennedy. The couple have applied to the Town Hall for permission to demolish their Victorian home in Vicar’s Road and replace it with two houses featuring what is described as a “fairytale” design.
Mr Morris, who designed the “fins” on the wall of the Parliament Hill Lido and worked on Yerbury primary school in Tufnell Park, said: “There is some fabulous architecture around here. It is an interesting street, very eclectic. We are not in a conservation area. We thought, yes, let’s do it, let’s fill our boots.”
Ms Kennedy added: “The church opposite is described by [architecture critic Niklaus] Pevsner as the craziest of all London’s Victorian churches. It has this Disney-type spire and pinnacles. It looks like somewhere Rapunzel might let her hair down at any moment. “We feel Vicar’s Road is a place where you have freedom to create something extraordinary.”
Emily Kennedy and Peter Morris
Before settling on the Cloud House idea, the couple considered remodelling their home, which dates from around 1880. But none of the solutions was practical, they said.
Mr Morris said: “It does not function well. It is damp, draughty and extremely difficult to heat. We know some say it is nice to look at, but if you were to make this house work today, you would have to leave the facade and demolish everything behind.”
The Cloud House will incorporate the current building by recycling its bricks to create a herringbone patterned floor.
Mr Morris said: “The old house is not being obliterated. Its history will still be here.”
It will also be built to exacting environmental standards with state of-the-art insulation, air-pump heating systems and rainwater recycling. The series of arches on the exterior – inspired by the church opposite – continues through the front door where there will be four bedrooms, a top-floor living area and a roof terrace offering outside space with its own plunge pool.
Ms Kennedy added: “We’d like it to be colourful and graphic, with polka dots and stripes. The kitchen will be green and pink.”
The artists’ impressions of how ‘The Cloud House’ would look
Many neighbours have expressed their support and have said they are relieved the couple have not gone for a more traditional form of Modernism.
Mr Morris said: “We wanted it to be a building that makes people smile, that when you come round the corner it brings joy and playfulness. “We understand that everyone has different tastes and opinions, which we welcome and respect. Our intention is to make a positive contribution to what is already an eclectic street.”
Others have not been so enthusiastic, however.
The current house
Dr Ian Dungavell, who lives nearby and is the former director of the Victorian Society, told the New Journal: “The owners haven’t realised that they have an important heritage asset on their hands. The Camden History Society say this was the verger’s house. It’s wonderfully original and looks like one of Edward Buckton Lamb’s designs.
“The context is important, and the name Vicar’s Road tells you what a churchy little ensemble this is.“St Martin’s Church, designed by Lamb, is one of the most extraordinary buildings of London, which is why it’s listed at Grade I. This little cottage is jam right up next to St Martin’s Hall, built in 1904, and listed Grade II. “It’s a miracle that it’s survived until now.”