Open House Festival 2022: visit an incredible self-build London neighbourhood

Tucked down a winding lane in a leafy pocket of south London, you will find Walters Way: a collection of homes built by namesake architect, Walter Segal. It’s just 1 of the incredible neighbourhoods you can practical experience at the Open up Household Competition: a two-week celebration of the individuals – and locations – that make London so distinctive. And this yr, Rightmove and Open up House are teaming up for the occasion, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary.

The enclave of Walters Way has taken portion in Open House considering that the competition began in 1992. From architecture supporters, to curious readers eager to listen to far more about this particular city neighborhood, the road draws in crowds of competition-goers who journey from much and extensive to explore these exceptional timber-framed households, and to communicate to those who are living there now.

Walters Way sits on a markedly steep incline, so it wasn’t achievable to build common bricks and mortar homes here. This meant that up right until the 1980s, the council-owned land had sat disused.

Segal introduced a undertaking with Lewisham Council to design the recent timber homes, which were reasonably easy to construct, and would be very well suited to the awkward floor. The plots were assigned to individuals who were being on the council’s housing ready record, with the houses developed so that the residents could self-build them.

It is this bold and visionary approach that would make Walters Way what it is today, and it’s 1 of the several interesting stories you’ll come across at the rear of the homes you can check out at this year’s Open up Household.

Ian and Shiree, who have lived on Walters Way for 25 many years, tailored their two-storey residence to suit the needs of their growing family members. They’ve been welcoming pageant-goers into their house for 18 many years, and are hunting ahead to returning once more this September.

What can make residences in Walters Way so unique?

The timber-framed houses in Walters Way sit on stilts, with the wooden layered and bolted with each other, which gives the interiors a distinctive panelled impact all through. The houses have no fat-bearing walls, since the timber stilts – that were plunged six metres into the ground – bear the full load.

“This meant that people could make conclusions about how to divide up their houses, and adapt them in a way that labored for them,” states Ian.

“Whether that be dwelling open-system, putting in glass partitions, or constructing extensions. Even though the 13 houses perform off the identical blueprint, each household has its individual one of a kind tale to convey to.”

A person neighbour has crafted a wall out of reclaimed stained glass, and an additional has towering conservatory partitions made from supplies initially destined for Heathrow Terminal 5.

Walters Way, Lewisham

Ian and Shiree’s have a few-bedroom residence is a testament to the couple’s creative imagination.

“Years in the past, when some surrounding trees ended up currently being felled, a slipping branch place a hole in the wall,” claims Shiree.

The family members experienced constantly needed a porthole window, so they turned this challenge into an opportunity.

“It took about two-and-a-50 percent several hours a single night to reduce the wall away and install the window. The other residents sat all over and watched us do it, beverages in hand. It demonstrates just how adaptable these houses are.”

‘We want to empower individuals to glance at what is possible’

Open Residence is the great party to share the remarkable history of this London neighborhood, with guests queuing up to question concerns. “We’re difficult what they know, and what is normal. Folks will talk to if it is a kit house, and if we have to use a professional heating procedure. But we have usual radiators,” laughs Ian.

For Ian and Shiree, getting component of Open up House is about sharing their tale and inspiring others.

“We want to let folks to listen to about the record of the creating, why it’s listed here, what’s uncommon about it. They may well even go absent contemplating ’we could do that ourselves‘.

We want folks to soak up Walters Way and its quirks, as it has a massive story to tell. It gets to be a bit of a day out for people: we have tea and cake, the youngsters could possibly do a motor vehicle boot sale, and folks will sit in the yard if the weather’s great,” suggests Ian.

The competition can also open people’s eyes to what’s doable. What may well seem idyllic, and it’s possible even unachievable, is particularly how tiny pockets of London are dwelling in 2022.

“People will talk to what it is like to are living in a picket household, as if it is an uncommon factor,” laughs Shiree.

“I’m from New Zealand, and I grew up in a wood dwelling. I’ve been in a picket home through an earthquake! Folks also check with if it’s cold here, but it isn’t – countries like Scandinavia are included with snow for fifty percent the year, and they stay in wooden residences.”

Walters Way, Lewisham

Opening up London neighbourhoods

Ian and Shiree have cherished observing much more tiny, household homes getting portion in Open Residence in new several years. “One of my favourite things I have visited during Open Property was a row of terraced residences in Hackney,” claims Ian. “You’re looking at a ton extra artisans having component and a breadth of different attributes, which is great.”

“People that arrive to Open Dwelling are fascinated in your story – regardless of whether that be the architecture, or how your home arrived about – rather than the artefacts in your home. You can just open up up the parts of your house you want individuals to see. For instance, we keep a little bit of privacy by only opening the downstairs amount, and the backyard.”

Shiree also notes how the local community spirit of Walters Way has been an included reward of relocating in this article: “In this working day and age, it is really uncomplicated to grow to be insular, to not talk to your neighbours. I grew up in a spot where by people still left their doors open up, so coming to London was a shock.”

The Walters Way people lately did egg rolling for Easter, and have an annual accumulating where they establish a phase, moreover a major barbecue. “Most summer season evenings the residents will sit out, the little ones will play soccer – Walters Way is not for these wanting a quiet lifetime!” states Shiree.

It is fair to say their once-a-year return to Open Home is partly about bringing other Londoners into the Walters Way fold, even if only for the period of the pageant.

“A whole lot of persons say we need to be the only street in Britain which is like this, but we aren’t,” states Ian. “We want to empower individuals to glance at what’s achievable, indeed in phrases of structures, but also in conditions of individuals encouraging each individual other.”

“We’re extremely blessed. We have this house, and street, but we have the neighborhood as properly.”

London’s Open Household Festival: how you can get concerned

This year’s festival aims to have the major and most varied assortment of properties and sites taking part.

Any kind of household or building can attribute in the programme, from rental homes, studio flats, and full housing estates, to factories and faith areas these types of as mosques and synagogues.

If you have a tale to tell about your home, workplace, neighbourhood, or someplace in London you discover interesting, then the competition is for you.

If it’s distinctive and intriguing to you, it will be to other folks also.

You can come across out additional about how you can add to this year’s festival below.

London’s Open Dwelling Competition 2022 runs for two months, from the 8th to the 21st of September.

Examine Much more: London Open up Residence Festival 2022: check out households and well-known structures