Winter House, London
The refurbishment and upgrade of a post-war Grade II* listed house,
one of the best-known and most influential modern steel buildings
in Britain designed by the distinguished architect, John Winter.
The house is located within the Highgate Village Conservation Area and set between two halves of the Grade I listed Highgate Cemetery. Built in 1969 by architect John Winter for himself and his family, the house is highly influential and unusual in its structure, materials, plan and aesthetic and is still a model for minimal housing, as influential today as it was when it was built.
The house is clad in Corten steel, a weathering carbon steel which rusts to provide a protective layer of a consistent rich brown colour, which was the first domestic use of the material in the UK. The steel frame, which is internal to reduce problems of cold and damp, permits the reorganisation of spaces as and when necessary. External walls are entirely glazed, in double-glazed units with narrow full-height pivoting ventilators on the upper floors, and sliding units on the ground floor. The house is not designed primarily to be seen from the outside but to be experienced from the inside, for the view and close relationship with the landscape and monuments of Highgate Cemetery.
"Like a cemetery building, a crypt or a sepulcher, it needs to be private, inscrutable. But set within that context, it is also part of the Romantic landscape where the views, like in a Claude or Poussin are bucolic, of broken buildings and bowing trees. The aging of the cemetery’s ivy-covered and moss-encrusted tombstones is complemented in the house's most talked-about feature, its Cor-ten cladding. This oxidizing steel gives the building, at once, the patina of age while paradoxically placing it firmly in the last half of the twentieth century."
Neil Jackson, Architectural Historian
Grade II* Listed