When filming finished in 2018, many viewers thought the concrete house in East Sussex was cold and uninviting. Will opinions turn around now it is complete? 

Inspiration for Megan and Adrian Corrigall’s self-build in Lewes, East Sussex, came from concrete villas in Mexico and brutalist buildings such as London’s Barbican. The uncompromising design garnered some criticism when it first appeared on Grand Designs. Almost three years on, the monolithic house and its outdoor pool is surrounded by a lush, almost tropical garden. It may not a conventional choice for this rural setting, but Megan and Adrian are sure that it is the perfect home for their family.

Exterior of Grand Designs concrete house with tree branch overlooking house and green grass surrounding building

The house was built on several levels with the main bedroom at the top. Photo: Mark Bolton 

Exposed concrete

Concrete often gets a bad rap, but offshore diver Adrian and his wife Megan, a horticulture student, are evangelic about its merits. ‘The visual element is only the start,’ says Adrian. ‘It has warmth, tactility, an audio quality and it even smells good.’

The couple, who have three children – Rafferty, 14, Stella, 12, and Ossie, nine – bought a bungalow on a rural plot knowing that they would knock it down and replace it with a home showcasing the material.

Using exposed concrete inside and out, and no plaster, paint or carpets, the single-storey building features several different levels, with a dining space stepping down from the kitchen and a living room lower still.

The bedrooms are above, with Megan and Adrian’s at the highest point. ‘The open-plan design of our previous home was quite hard to live with, so we didn’t want everything visible all the time,’ says Megan. ‘The spaces gradually reveal themselves as you wander through the house.’

Living space of Grand Designs concrete house including wooden hanging chair and yellow sofa on wooden legs, overlooking transparent sliding doors into garden

 In the sitting area a hanging chair and Lurashell sofa look out to the front courtyard. Photo: Mark Bolton

Watch the episode: Lewes Revisit, 2021

Eco concerns

A common criticism is that concrete is always bad for the environment, but the couple refute this. ‘The mixes we used are as environmentally friendly as you can get,’ says Adrian. ‘Minimising the use of steel in the house not only saved us almost £100,000, but also massively reduced its carbon footprint. The structure is so strong that it will be here for hundreds of years. Society’s throwaway approach to building is shocking and, though this project wasn’t cheap, we hope elements of it can be adopted more widely.’

Sunken dining table in Grand Designs concrete house, surrounded by foilage and grey concrete walls

The sunken dining area is separated from the kitchen by a microcement wall and greenery. Photo: Mark Bolton

What are your thoughts on the finished Grand Designs concrete house? Make a comment on TwitterFacebook and Instagram

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Kevins Column

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