Property of the Week: Hidden House in Clerkenwell is a one-off built above Victorian prison vaults

Melissa York
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Hidden House from the outside

As the name would suggest, Hidden House is a very private place.

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Before you arrive, you have to wind down the picturesque cobbled streets of Clerkenwell on the City fringes. When you finally get there, it blends seamlessly into the surrounding Grade II listed blocks of the Clerkenwell Green Conservation Area. This is largely due to the reclaimed, locally-sourced London bricks used to camouflage the property among its historic neighbours.

Yet it came into being fairly recently, as the dream of Turkish architect Salim Bayer, who commissioned Clerkenwell-based Coffey Architects to create a family home for him on a small plot of land residing on top of Victorian prison vaults once belonging to the Clerkenwell House of Detention.

Privacy was an essential part of the brief, so project director Lee Marsden set to work with project architect Ella Wright, who, at 29-years-old, designed the house as part of her Part 3 Qualification in Architecture. Impressively, it was shortlisted for a RIBA London Award.

Read more: Designer Patrick Cox's house in Little Venice

With 72sqm of floor space, – around half of the building is an extension and half is an old caretaker’s shed – the Coffey team had to be as innovative and economical with the space as possible. In order to retain privacy, but still let in plenty of light and air, ocular rooflights were built into the living/dining room ceiling, above the master bed and above the shower.

Electronically opened and closed, they serve the dual function of flooding the property with natural light and eliminating the need for an air cooling system. “From anywhere in the house, you are able to gaze at the skies,” enthuses Bayer, founder of Flat C Architecture.”

Cutlery, storage, utilities and both bedrooms are all hidden away behind oak-panelling, complementing the bespoke oak furniture created for the project by Coffey. Modern polished concrete work surfaces line the kitchen, too, lending an on-trend industrial edge to the styling. A slim oak deck leads the way to the patio garden – a communal affair with a newly-planted olive tree – where the only sign of human habitation is a shining black chimney extending from the top of the building.

With Bayer’s vision and Coffey’s expertise, the whole project was completed in around two years and, according to a rough estimation by local estate agents, the house should be worth around £1m if it went on the market now.

But Bayer is far too pleased with the results to sell up. Hidden House may be hard to find, but it’s worth it when you do.

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