“Steiner’s principles informed the unique shape of the house, its lack of any right-angles, and the irregular pitches of the copper roof."
This incredibly bright four-bedroom house is one of a striking collection of houses built on the principles of Rudolf Steiner in the mid-1970s.
The house is located a stone’s throw from one of the largest Steiner Schools in the UK. The school commissioned the houses and designed them with their founder’s architectural principles in mind. This informed the unique shape of the house, its lack of any right-angles, and the wonderfully irregular pitches of the copper roof.
The current owner has recently refurbished the house to create a light-filled contemporary interiors, whilst sensitively preserving a number of original features such as wooden-framed centre-pivoting windows. The ground floor is mostly open plan, incorporating a modern kitchen and a large living room with an exposed-brick fireplace and views across the parkland through a picture window. Timber-framed glazing leads onto a paved seating area.
A bespoke plywood staircase rises to the upper level where there are four bedrooms and a family bathroom. The master bedroom has a French-style copper bath and a substantial window framing views across a landscape of mature trees. A skylight bathes the hallway in light.
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Kidbrooke Park, the Grade II* listed house which was built for the Earl of Abergavenny in 1725, sits in 20 acres of formal parkland and is now home to the Steiner School. The school commissioned the construction of the Michael Fields houses in the 70s. They overlook the school and were intended to be built with Steiner principles in mind.
Steiner thought that straight lines found in machine made products were not as valuable or meaningful as ‘organic’ forms found in nature. He extrapolates on this belief in his writings on architecture and in the design of his school buildings which avoided right-angles and regular lines and shapes completely. These principles have informed the the footprint of the Michael Fields houses, alongside the pitch of their roofs and the shape of their windows. The copper roofs are also meant to keep good, productive energies in the house, and help ward off any negative ones.
Professor of Art, Carmine Iannaccone discusses Steiner’s approach to form in his article History, Humanity, and Handwork:
“Machines are able to replicate a product with great precision but work best with designs based on the straight line, the right angle, and on rigid symmetry. Straight lines and right angles give precision to a product, but they take away a dynamic and living quality. For Steiner and for others, confronted by the fixed and hard-edged quality of things made by machine, “organic” forms took on new significance and value. In nature, virtually all forms are characterized by a sensuous curvilinearity and an absence of right angles. Steiner’s aesthetic, his preference for organic and metamorphosing forms, is evident in his designs for the first Goetheanum [a school] and for the second.”