Architecture: Arad - Walking on egg shells

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Indy Lifestyle Online
Who would have thought, when I revealed the plans in The Independent (August 22 ) for an innovative house in Hampstead, it would stir up such a storm? Objections to it are based on the unusual plans for the house's construction: two shells - a world away from four walls supporting a pitched roof with a chimney which is still the way that children draw houses. Its potential neighbour on Courtney Avenue, the architect John Siefert, calls it a "broken egg". "Futuristic house will dwarf ancient woodland" was the unrealistic headline in the Hampstead & Highgate Express.

The truth is that unlike the 70-year old house it would replace, the Arad one reveals ancient woodland behind. Stung by the aggravation on the avenue, Arad's clients wrote to all the residents to explain why their family wanted to live in a modern house, and added that they admire "the beautiful gardens and majestic trees of Courtney Avenue, the jewel in Kenwood's crown".

Having embraced local residents' complaints, the Ham & High have now canvassed more positive opinions. One says he wants it to go ahead so that history isn't frozen; another calls it an interesting sculpture between the trees. A journalist reminds the doubters that one of the delights of living in Hampstead or Highgate is " the rich mix of domestic architecture", adding a reminder that Lubetkin built there and that Goldfinger's house in Willow Road is now a popular National Trust property.

English Heritage bussed in a group of experts last Friday to check out whether the demolition of a 70-year-old Walter Quennell house was supportable. It's not official, but it's no secret that they now approve of Arad's scheme.

Now there is an air of reconciliation in Courtney Avenue. The architects have built a scale model to explain - over tea and sandwiches - the building's unusual geometry to residents . Will Harringay Council give planning permission? Arad exudes a quiet optimism. Five years ago the project would have been doomed; now he thinks that maybe, just maybe, it has a future.

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