Open House Festival

In partnership
with Airbnb


Ben Ridley on Halliwick Road

The exterior of Halliwick Road looks like any other Edwardian end-of-terrace north London home. Step inside, however, and a contrasting story unfolds — a calming, considered space that has been completely revitalised to reveal long lines, cocooning wood panelling and a kitchen island that cuts through the centre as smoothly as a knife through soft butter. The eye is immediately drawn towards the light-dappled ferns that backdrop the vast picture window at the rear. The unexpected elements of this home don’t stop there though. Unlike most historic London houses, this low-energy refurbishment is air-tight; it’s designed to recycle the air, so minimal changes are needed in order to keep the optimal temperature. The distinct aesthetic continues from zone to zone thanks to the use of interior materials, including in the upstairs guest rooms and bathroom.

As the architect and homeowner, Ben is opening his home for the Open House Festival, offering drop-in sessions across both weekends of the festival. As an Airbnb Host, Ben also shares his space with guests throughout the year. He chatted to us about his experiences as an Open House Contributor and Airbnb Host.

I’m proud of the quality of space that we created: the calmness of a limited palette of natural materials

Can you tell us a bit about your home on Halliwick Road?

The house is an Edwardian end-of-terrace in Muswell Hill, which was extended and refurbished to create a comfortable, low-energy house. This project aims to be an exemplar for the sustainable refurbishment of a typical terraced home in London, with a constrained budget. Both embodied energy and energy in use have been considered in depth. Energy requirements are reduced dramatically by insulating, triple-glazing and improving airtightness.

What are you most proud of within the renovation?

I’m proud of the quality of space that we created: the calmness of a limited palette of natural materials, the softness of the curved wall of curtains in the bedroom or the cave-like enclosure of the stone bathroom with daylight entering from above.

The materials used for the interiors create a distinct atmosphere here — can you explain a little bit about your choice behind them?

Natural materials including stone, timber and lime plaster were used throughout rather than cement-based products. Limiting the surface finishes to four main materials also helps to create a calm and cohesive atmosphere.

What made you decide to open up your home for Open House Festival?

It’s great to show people the house and let them experience a low-energy refurbishment, hopefully it provides some inspiration.

You also share your space with guests, as one of the bedrooms is available on Airbnb. What’s your experience of opening up your home to guests?

It’s a rewarding experience. I’ve had guests from all over the world — the cultural and culinary diversity has been great, with lots of memorable shared experiences and dinners.

What made you decide to open up your home to Airbnb guests?

I was looking to utilise the spare room and Airbnb works well for me as it gives me flexibility on how often guests are in the house. It really suits my way of life and Astrid (my cat) enjoys the attention too.

What do you enjoy most about hosting?

The house tends to attract guests who appreciate contemporary design, so it’s been enjoyable spending time with like-minded people. Guests have included product, interior, fashion and graphic designers, and other architects.

It’s the closest thing to travelling without having to leave your front door!

Do you have a favourite London building you’ve visited during Open House Festival?

Lloyds Building by RSHP was a fantastic one!

As a Director for Architecture for London, what makes an exceptional London building, in your opinion?

One that is inspired by the character of the city, treads lightly on the environment and inspires its visitors.

What are you looking forward to most as an Open House Contributor?

Meeting and talking to people who are interested in design, architecture and are keen to learn about low-energy retrofit.

What would you say to anyone thinking of sharing their space and opening up their home to visitors for the Open House Festival?

It’s a fun, if sometimes hectic and exhausting(!) experience. Go for it.

Festival homes on Airbnb

These homes are open for the Open House Festival and are available to stay in throughout the year, on Airbnb.

Hosting on Airbnb

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