Built from timber and raised on concrete stilts, this house helped its owner put down roots
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 his life 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 home at all. Instead, James commissioned his nephew, the architect Ben Hebblethwaite, to build a timber structure halfway between a dwelling and a boat. This Grand Designs house on stilts has deck-like terraces and open doors either side to provide views over the nearby River Rother and the surrounding East Sussex countryside.
The motivation to build a home from scratch stemmed from the dilapidated bungalow that James was able to stay in when he wasn’t out on the river. It was on the farm that his great-aunt used to own. A crumbling wreck, it took just half an hour to knock the entire thing down, the 85-year-old bungalow was no longer habitable. So, it gave James the chance to create something that would suit his unique lifestyle.