In 1936, Dorset businessman and keen sailor Mr Cullen built the Boat House, a whitewashed modernist home on a headland that overlooks Poole harbour. Cube-shaped and surrounded by pine trees, it’s now home to Roger Zogolovitch, creative director of award-winning housing developer Solidspace.
When Roger decided to expand the property with a guesthouse for family gatherings that he could also rent out as a holiday let, he commissioned Meredith Bowles of Mole Architects to design the addition. Known for sustainable buildings that blend seamlessly with their surroundings, the studio’s philosophy echoes Roger’s own. ‘We use split levels to create interconnected tiers that offer both a sense of openness and privacy,’ he explains. ‘I wanted the house to be handmade and to combine the eccentric with the utilitarian.’
The dwelling that Meredith created – which won the RIBA South West Award for 2017 and is known affectionately as the Houseboat – is almost a mirror image of its 1930s companion, resembling two upturned boat hulls ‘reaching upwards’, rather than like a ship looking down on the ocean. ‘The building is split into two curved wings, one raised above the other,’ Meredith says. ‘It’s an odd fish of a house. There are no normal walls and few straight lines.’
At 221 square metres, the interior is by no means huge, but it does feel incredibly expansive thanks to an unconventional layout. Downstairs, the four bedrooms are ‘tightly packed, as in the hold of a ship’, while the two wider upper floors contain a dining area, a living space and a terrace with amazing views.
The materials palette was chosen not only to echo the coastal landscape, but also to age beautifully. ‘The house is cast in unfinished concrete that resembles the weather-beaten sea wall nearby,’ says Roger. Tar-black larch exterior cladding references local wooden boats, as does the grooved MDF panelling inside. Together, these finishes evoke a strong feeling of being connected to the outdoors.
The only touches of colour are turquoise mosaics in the bathroom and vintage glass tiles on the staircase, which cast delicate, sea- blue shadows around the space. ‘The house is crafted simply but honestly,’ enthuses Roger. ‘Everyone who visits is uplifted and surprised.’ molearchitects.co.uk; solidspace.co.uk. The Houseboat is available to rent via Quay Holidays (quayholidays.co.uk).
For the full house tour see ELLE Decoration April 2018
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