Abandon hope all ye who enter here…
That’s what Kevin McCloud ought to have said as he introduced the 2.8-metre wide home in the Peckham area of London.
If you’ve ever dreamed of a house where you can stretch your arms out and switch on the lights in the bathroom AND the kitchen at the same time, then this is the house for you.
Built by architects, Sandy and Sally, this steel-framed structure featuring on Grand Designs was constructed literally in an alleyway and was being celebrated for its clever use of space and materials in the much-coveted Grand Designs House of the Year competition on Channel 4.
Sandy and Sally purchased the alleyway and found, amazingly, that it came with planning permission for a three-bedroom home.
Design expert Michelle Ogundehin arrived at the house wide-eyed saying: “I almost missed your house because it’s so narrow. What was here before, It can’t have been a house surely?”
As the camera toured the teeny house, we were shown features like the mezzanine study which hung over the lounge.
Private work calls? Not for Sandy and Sally!
Sally said: “There was nothing here before, it was an access route behind the shops on the local road and it’s never had a proper structure on it, definitely not a dwelling.”
Kevin narrated excitedly: “The disused alleyway came with planning permission for a three-bedroom family home.”
Alleyways don’t usually lend themselves to family homes, but in London where space is tight and the average house price is £656K, wherever you lay your hat might have to be your home, even if it is behind the shops in a passage.
Sally continued: “We were told more than once by developers that we were under-developing. But actually we wanted to make something with some joy, something sustainable, something that was lovely to live in.”
So, have they succeeded in living happily in an alleyway?
Michelle was impressed, saying: “It’s so much bigger and lighter than I was expecting it to be, it feels like you’ve snuck in all the architectural tricks.”
All the tricks like, not plastering in the inside so that the exposed boards left a little shelf. Michelle was happy with it but it made us feel a bit sad.
Sandy and Sally are good people. They deserve to be able to at least put their stuff on a shelf at the end of a day before turning in for the night to sleep in their steel frame alleyway.
Sandy said: “It’s never going to be big, but just moments where you can breath a little bit more, is really what the aim was.”
Ah yes, being able to breathe in your house has always been a goal of ours too.
At the end of the programme, Kevin announced Slot House (so-called we assumed as it slots just nicely into an alley) was shortlisted for House of the Year and the judges apparently “loved the way the materials had been left exposed throughout the house. Timber joists left bare. Nothing plaster-boarded or skimmed”.
Is that good? We’re not convinced and neither were some viewers on Twitter with one saying: “I can admire the architecture of Slot House, the steelwork is incredible. But no way could I live in it. It’s not so much the size but rather how dark it is that I would struggle with”.
Grand Designs House of the Year continues next Wednesday on Channel 4 at 9pm.