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Open House London 2017

Sunday the 17th was my ten year anniversary in the UK. I’m so lucky to be able to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, where there’s always new and interesting things to discover.

This past weekend was Open House London, and Alexej and I visited a few of our local South East London Open House locations. On Saturday, we walked to Crystal Palace along the Green Chain Walk, and queued to see the Crystal Palace Subway (little did we know the queue was much shorter later in the day!).

The subway was opened in 1865 to link the newly opened High Level station directly into the Crystal Palace. After the Crystal Palace was destroyed in a fire in 1936, and the station was demolished in 1961, the subway was neglected. For a more comprehensive history of the subway check out the Friends of Crystal Palace subway site, and this blogpost about last year’s Open House from Transpontine.

After our visit to the subway, Alexej and I headed back into Dulwich to see Pear Tree House, which architect Jake Edgley built as his family home on a backland site that had been used as an orchard in Victorian times. He wanted to preserve as many of the trees on the site as possible, including designing the house around a 100-year-old pear tree, which forms the centrepiece of their courtyard. Because the home is surrounded on all sides by their neighbours' back gardens, it was necessary to make the house inward-facing. More photos and information are available from this Dezeen article.

Sunday, we headed out towards Honor Oak Park to see the houses in Segal Close. Walter Segal was a German-born architect who moved to London in 1936. He advocated for self-built, inexpensive, ecologically-friendly timber-frame housing. Walters Way and Segal Close in Lewisham were two of the communities built using Segal’s methods. We saw two of the houses on Segal Close, one of which was owned by Taran Wilkhu and his family. As a photographer, Wilkhu recently released a book with journalist Alice Grahame (a resident of Walters Close). Both were on hand for an interesting talk in the back garden of Wilkhu’s home.

I am obsessed with small, efficient housing that blends with the natural surroundings, especially when it’s self-built. The houses on Segals Close were an absolute dream for me. On a hill overlooking South East London, they take advantage of the terrain, connect to the natural surroundings, as well as let in lots of natural light. More photos are available in an interview Wilkhu and his wife did with The Modern House earlier in the year.

I love how there’s always something more to discover about London. When I was researching efficient, ecologically-friendly housing I didn’t consider that some of the best examples were just a bus-ride away.

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