Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Real Show Stopper; Family Houses Can Be Fun. Architect Sean Griffiths Pulls in the Crowds Who Pass His 'Cardboard Cutout' Home with Its Air of Irreverence, Says Fay Sweet

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Real Show Stopper; Family Houses Can Be Fun. Architect Sean Griffiths Pulls in the Crowds Who Pass His 'Cardboard Cutout' Home with Its Air of Irreverence, Says Fay Sweet

Article excerpt

Byline: FAY SWEET

BARELY a day goes by when there isn't a huddle of young architecture students or curious tourists stopping and staring at Sean Griffiths' home.

With its cardboard cut-out doll's house frontage, and baby-blue weatherboarding, it's a great piece of street theatre and not the sort of thing you expect to find in an inner city conservation area, in Hackney.

To Griffiths, it is a happy house. "Although it might be described as looking unusual, all the people locally seem to like it."

It is jolly, rather jaunty, highly individual and, of course, provocative, just like FAT, (Fashion Architecture Taste) the architecture practice that Griffiths runs with partners Sam Jacob and Charles Holland. Last month the company won the prestigious Next Generation Award, established by The Architecture Foundation with architectural modelmaker Pipers to highlight new design talent. The prize is to collaborate with leading developer British Land on a commercial architecture project.

"FAT's work is completely original and different from anyone else's on the scene," says Rowan Moore of the Architecture Foundation. "They have demonstrated that, even when operating within tight constraints, they can produce something special. We know they will be able to do the same with a commercial project."

The Hackney house, home to Griffiths, his partner, landscape architect Lynn Kinnear, and their daughter, nine-year-old Lily, was among FAT's first built projects and was completed four years ago. The site was bought for [pounds sterling]65,000 and the house was built for [pounds sterling]300,000. "We found a site and had the opportunity to build a home, an office where Lynn could work, and a small flat for letting," explains Griffiths. "And that's just what the design of the place says - it is a cardboard cut-out house standing in front of a small office block."

FAT has always had an air of irreverence about its work, and a mission to question the doctrine of "good taste" pursued by so many in the architecture profession.

Griffiths takes a laid-back approach. He is interested in design with mass appeal and is a fan of those sort of DIY interiors filled with fake beams and stone-clad fireplaces where homeowners have created highly personalised spaces. In its own way, the Hackney house has evolved during the time the family has lived there.

"We always knew that we wanted a big kitchen and entertaining space with quieter living room beyond, plenty of storage space, and bedrooms, but it has been interesting to see the place evolve," says Griffiths. "For example, I had great visions in the early days that I'd spend my spare time stretched out in the window seat, taking in the view and reading tremendously worthy books. Instead of that, Lily has appropriated the space and turned it into a model village. …

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