This boat-inspired house by the river in East Sussex helped James Strangeways to find his feet on dry land.
Described by Kevin McCloud as ‘one of Britain’s last great eccentrics’, self-confessed boat obsessive James Strangeways is the first to admit that he’s not a fan of houses. Having spent much of the past 35 years on the water, hopping from vessel to vessel, he was going to require something pretty extraordinary – and unconventional – to anchor him on dry land. He was determined that if he did have to live in a building, it wouldn’t look like your average domestic property at all.
Instead, James commissioned his nephew, the architect Ben Hebblethwaite (who claimed during filming that he was ‘rather bemused and surprised’ at the request), to build a timber structure that was a halfway house between a dwelling and a boat. It was designed to appear as if floating on stilts, with deck-like terraces and open doors either side to provide views over the nearby River Rother and the surrounding East Sussex countryside. The property also needed to have direct access to the water, with moorings, so that James could be river-bound whenever he pleased.