corten house.

I first came upon the architecture of John Winter (1930-2012) three years ago, experiencing it first hand in a beach house he owned on the north east Norfolk coast (you can stay there too; details, here). Inspired by Charles Eames’ west coast cabin (he worked with Eames when he moved to San Francisco early in his career), he designed and built the house out of renewable timber, steel and aluminium. It is the simplest of plans being rectilinear in form, with windows running along both of the long sides, and my favorite of all interior spaces – a sunken lounge.

The subject of this post however, is not that house but this one, in Highgate, North London. Built in 1967 by John Winter for his own use, this is a wonderful, proper modernist house, given a rare Grade II* listing by English Heritage: ‘This is a highly influential and unusual house in its structure, materials, plan and aesthetic. It is still a model for minimal housing, as influential today as it was when it was built’.


Constructed around a steel frame, the house has huge double-glazed picture windows that flood the interior with light. It is clad in Corten, a steel alloy that weathers naturally to a beautiful dark rust colour. This was the first domestic use of the material in Britain, and the proportions of the house and grid were designed around the dimensions of the standard, factory-produced Corten sheet, so that nothing was wasted.


It has three floors with, unusually for the time, the living room on the top floor, to take advantage of the views over the utterly charming Highgate cemetery and Waterlow park opposite. The interior is all original – kitchen, built-in storage, quarry tiles. The long, low linear shelf which runs the length of one wall is a detail he used often. And there is, of course, fabulous original  furniture – Barcelona arm chairs and coffee table, and Eames’ LCW wood lounge chairs and ubiquitous (but no less than fabulous) DSR chair.

It’s for sale, and sadly, I won’t be buying it. Corten house via The Modern House.

More wonderful spaces, here. More design heros, here.

6 thoughts on “corten house.

  1. Lauren

    I always learn a little something new in the modern design world from you. I did not know of John Winter. His homes are stunning. Oh how I wish I could afford that home as well! What a dream!

    1. owls house london. Post author

      lauren – thank you! that’s a lovely compliment. i’m so glad you like his work too, and that you’ve now discovered him. what a shame we can’t afford him… but i do recommend his holiday home in norfolk! j

  2. Pingback: off to the beach. | owl's house london.

  3. Sanchia

    I remember visiting this house for one of Val and John’s fabulous dinner parties – what a wonderful place it was, matched only by the warmth of hospitality shown by the owners – one of the sweetest couples I ever met.

    1. owls house london. Post author

      how wonderful to have visited and experienced it first hand, and to have met the Winters. I can recommend the beach house in Norfolk too as a seaside retreat – it has a wonderful feel. great to hear from you! J


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s