Grand designs on studio living
Here’s your chance to buy a piece of architectural history, says Anna White
The property tick boxes for the typical first-time buyer often include: mod cons, storage space, and good access to transport links. However, for those who believe a starter home is not necessarily synonymous with a new-build flat, or dream of living in an architectural masterpiece, look no further than Dome House.
The 7,000 square foot eco mansion, built under the watchful gaze of
viewers and the team, is to be transformed into six studios and apartments, with some priced to appeal to those taking their first tentative steps on the property ladder.
Nestled on the hillside overlooking Lake Windermere, with arguably the best view in the Lake District, the seven-bedroom family home and luxury self-catering guest house has been on the market (at £2.3m) for 18 months but is now to be turned into a unique complex of dwellings. “This will be the first Grand Designs house to be reapplied for this change from a single large dwelling to affordable housing,” says the owner and architect Robert Gaukroger. He submitted the planning application this week. Four of the homes will be classified as affordable – meaning people working locally can buy a stake of a flat or studio – and two will be commercially priced.
These innovative plans will come as no surprise to those who know the ambitious couple, Robert and his wife Milla Gaukroger, who built the environmentally-friendly dome in 2009 to blend into the hillside. The house cannot even be spied from the lake. The first floor galleried landing overhangs the reception hall below, which leads to the ground floor annex with a guest suite comprising of an open-plan bedroom, dining area and kitchen, bathroom and access to the garden. Situated just above the busy little town of Bowness, Gaukroger’s geodesic roof design was marvelled at by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud during the filming, who has described it as “awe inspiring”. This site has panoramic views of Lake Windermere, and an annex and guest accommodation.
The building is clad in larch, while all the wooden floors are recycled. One room has flooring from an old tobacco factory in Lancashire.
The couple first put the house on the market last August, and moved down to London with their two teenage children so Gaukroger could complete a post graduate qualification in London. But despite interest from a hedge fund which wanted to use it for corporate meetings, and a handful of overseas trophy hunters, it hasn’t sold.
“It’s not everyone’s cup of tea and moving down to London has made me realise it’s an obscene waste of space for one family. I built it nursing an ego,” Gaukroger says. “I don’t think we’ll be left with a great amount of money in our pockets but I just want to see it lived in.” A buyer purchasing a 50 per cent stake of the smallest unit will pay around £65,000, he estimates. Interested parties should contact [email protected]gency.co.uk.
Room with a view: the open-plan kitchen with views over Lake Windemere