How many architects does it take to change a lightbulb? Six. An inventive half-dozen in the same clan talk to Cheryl Markosky about creating twin eco-friendly homes in south-east London.
If you believe that a family that plays together stays together, then it’s evident that the Borowieckis – a family that sketches, designs and gets planning permission together - is a solid unit.
Conversations round the dinner table in the Borowiecki household must be fascinating. While most of us discuss the recent floods, will the Tory-Lib Dem Coalition survive and where to go on holiday, this ménage of architects speaks of glazing, lighting effects and which solar panels brighten up their lives.
“We live close to one another in London, so we get together once a week to talk things through,” explains Niki Borowiecki. “We all gave input for this project in different ways.”
Although Paddock House, one of two eco-homes in Grove Park, near Peckham, was basically Niki and his wife Liz’s baby, the rest of the architects in the family chipped in too.
Niki’s daughter Sarah, 29, kept reminding Niki about practice (the contract side of the business), while son Tom, 33, Niki’s mother Maya, 83, and brother Mathew, 57, all had their say as well.
The lucky buyer of Paddock House will certainly benefit from such an array of expertise. Niki also points out that the house, on the market at £2m, is a mirrored image of the neighbouring abode where Niki and Liz will live.
“We put in exactly the same fittings and furnishings in both houses and haven’t cut any corners,” he says. “Anyone who looks round the houses likes the high standard of workmanship.”
Great design and craftsmanship is apparent, with a glazed atrium admitting light through the L-shaped courtyard residence and semi-open plan spaces on different levels providing flexibility for a changing family.
A living room, kitchen/diner with walk-in pantry and ‘skyspace’ breakfast location, and a study/bedroom run across the ground floor. Four double-bedrooms (two with a lockable, sliding partition between them) can be found on the first floor, and two reception rooms (one with an en-suite) can be adapted however the home’s inhabitants desire.
The house has been carefully considered, says selling agent Becky Munday, of GJM Property. “It’s awesome, but it’s also modest and not too showy. A lot happens in the gardens and basement that you don’t see from the street.”
Green credentials for the property double-act are also high. Eco-friendly items can be ticked off – a heat recovery system, sedum roofs, bat boxes, bee hotels and solar panels providing 60 per cent of the required hot water.
Paddock House was part of London Open House last year, admitting about 1,000 visitors through its stylish doors over two days, adds Munday.
She’s pleased there’s been a great deal of interest in the house already, including from a mature couple. They said, ‘Let’s shake off our Georgian terrace and buy this contemporary place.’
If Paddock House does sell for over the £2m asking price, it could set a new record in the area. Munday notes only a handful of properties have shifted for this amount to date.
“But with new over-ground links in Peckham Rye and Denmark Hill, this spot’s become more gentrified. We’re getting a number of purchasers coming all the way from Islington and Camden in north London.”
Potential buyers who miss out on this gem mustn’t despair, however. The Borowiecki’s have bought a cottage two streets away. Niki says they’ve just submitted plans to the council to build a new house on the site, which will presumably trigger more late-night debates from the architectural equivalent of the Von Trapps.