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The Narrow House

Sanei Hopkins Architects

Shared By

Morgan Day, Hanley Wood

Project Name

The Narrow House

Project Status


Year Completed



159 sq. meters


  • General Contractor: Chalmers & Co
  • Structural Engineer: Elliott Wood Partnership LLP M&E

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This project is on the longlist for the RIBA 2016 House of the Year Award.

Project Description


This project is, without question, an exemplar of a private client-architect collaboration; in fact it is impossible to imagine it resulting from any other combination. Built on the footprint of the owners' single garage and squeezed between neighbors, the house is idiosyncratic to the point of eccentricity.

The cool exterior does not prepare one for the assault on the senses that the privilege of an invitation inside brings (save for a striking sculpture peeping over the balcony and colored lasers overhead in the front porch). The house is part-home, part-lookout and part gallery for an outstanding collection of artwork and sculptures. Many of the latter are kinetic, responding to noise or movement, adding an additional sense of life to the space.

John Soane's influence purveys the house, with every conceivable inch of space utilised to exhibit or store this unique collection. Given the labyrinthine nature of the house, the main circulation is reassuringly simple with a single stair climbing from the front door with living and sleeping accommodation organised to one side. Even the stair treads are laser cut to spell out the shipping forecast in morse code for the observant visitor. At the end of the upward journey is a roof terrace (itself also a mini sculpture park) with breathtaking views out to sea.

Due to the geography of the region, protection from the elements became a recurring theme of this year’s visits. This house not only fronts a constantly-moving shingle beach, it sits below it. Hence, the high level-window sills of the lower floor bedroom are at beach level, reminding one of Lutyens’s eye-level tricks at Castle Drogo.
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