Angelo Mastropietro: a Q&A - Grand Designs Magazine
Angelo Mastropietro built the Rockhouse Retreat featured on Grand Designs

Q&A with Angelo Mastropietro of the Rockhouse Retreat

Angelo Mastropietro is the creator and mastermind behind The Rockhouse Retreat.

By Becca Green |

Angelo Mastropietro is the incredible designer and creator behind the Rockhouse Retreat, which first appeared on Grand Designs in September 2015. The team caught up with Angelo at Grand Designs Live Birmingham to find out what happened to the cave house.

What inspired the Rockhouse Retreat?

There were many things that inspired me to build the Rockhouse Retreat. When I first saw it my gut feeling was to restore it into a romantic retreat. It felt like it was meant to be – I bought it at an auction on my birthday and my surname in fact translates to ‘master of the stone’.

I wanted to achieve something extraordinary. I was diagnosed with MS in 2007 and I wasn’t going to let that define me. The first thing I did was I bought a pick axe and started digging, literally as simple as that.

A cave house from Grand Designs TV show on Channel 4 based in Wye Forest, Worcestershire

Photo: Andrew Wall

With such a massive task at hand, where did you begin?

The first thing I did was bought a pick axe and I spent the first week digging by hand in honour of the men that created it 800 years ago. Then, after realising my hands were completely swollen, I bought a generator in order to get some petrol power. Basically, I just kept on digging…

What was the biggest surprise throughout the build?

The biggest surprise was the fact that nobody shared my vision or my positive energy about the project as a whole. But, I was determind to do something different. If everyone goes left, I want to go right.

the kitchen in the grand designs rockhouse

Photo: Andrew Wall

If you could sum up the process of creating The Rockhouse Retreat in three words, what would they be?

Inspiring. Spontaneous. Grit.

The important thing to remember is that what I created was what I first saw when I envisioned The Rockhouse Retreat. You’ve got to stick to your dreams. I think a lot of people have an initial vision and deviate from it, however I think it’s important to stick to your vision.

the bathroom in the rockhouse cave house from grand designs

Photo: Andrew Wall

How did it feel to be picked as one of Kevin’s top 20 Grand Designs?

I was surprised and incredibly honoured. It’s an enormous achievement to be picked out of 180 designs! It’s well known that some of the people behind those projects are architects and industry professionals with incredible talent. So to be picked as one of Kevin’s Grandest Designs I consider to be an enormous pat on the back.