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Grand Designs: Kevin McCloud revisits concrete house in Lewes he compared to a car park

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Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud admits he is ‘blown away’ by the transformation of a family home he once compared to a ‘nuclear bunker’ and a ‘car park’ as he revisits the property 18 months on.  

Adrian and Megan Corrigall spent 18 months creating the pioneering four-bedroom property in Lewes, East Sussex, entirely out of concrete, with their journey originally documented on a programme in 2018.

When McCloud visited the property at the end of the episode it was still not watertight and there was no heating.

Tonight, more than two years after he was last there, McCloud returns to the property to discover if the couple, who live with their children, have been able to make their stark, brutalist home feel cosy and lived in.

‘I’m really interested to see if Adrian and Megan have been able to finesse it in any way,’ he says, on the drive to the property, ‘to make up for all of those defects. I’ll be really interested to see it… 

‘They must have done some work, they must have refined it. I hope they’ve turned it into a proper piece of architecture that’s somewhere to live, somewhere that’s a delight to live in that isn’t dark and dank and dripping, but is an inspirational home.’ 

BEFORE: Adrian and Megan Corrigall spent 18 months creating the pioneering four-bedroom family home in Lewes, East Sussex, pictured, almost entirely out of concrete. Pictured, how the project looked when Kevin last visited in October 2018

BEFORE: Adrian and Megan Corrigall spent 18 months creating the pioneering four-bedroom family home in Lewes, East Sussex, pictured, almost entirely out of concrete. Pictured, how the project looked when Kevin last visited in October 2018

NOW: Kevin McCloud revisited the property in December 2020 and was pleasantly surprised by what he found. He noted that the exterior of the home (pictured) had been polished and ground down so the concrete looked more similar to limestone

NOW: Kevin McCloud revisited the property in December 2020 and was pleasantly surprised by what he found. He noted that the exterior of the home (pictured) had been polished and ground down so the concrete looked more similar to limestone

BEFORE: The couple's industrial chic property is built entirely using concrete. They raised eyebrows from Kevin McCloud when they revealed they would not polish the walls or even use paint or plaster. Pictured, the property's kitchen and reception space in October 2018, when it was still not watertight and didn't have any heating

BEFORE: The couple’s industrial chic property is built entirely using concrete. They raised eyebrows from Kevin McCloud when they revealed they would not polish the walls or even use paint or plaster. Pictured, the property’s kitchen and reception space in October 2018, when it was still not watertight and didn’t have any heating 

Determined: Adrian and Megan Corrigall originally appeared on Grand Designs in 2018 and return tonight as Kevin McCloud revisits the build to discover how much it has changed - and he is stunned by the results

Determined: Adrian and Megan Corrigall originally appeared on Grand Designs in 2018 and return tonight as Kevin McCloud revisits the build to discover how much it has changed – and he is stunned by the results  

Within moments of pulling up to the house, McCloud is amazed by the sight that greets him and declares: ‘It looks really good. It’s beautiful. It’s been polished and ground back. It’s like limestone now, it’s gorgeous. It’s concrete from another planet.’

Adrian and Megan originally paid £500,000 for the plot, razed the existing property to the ground and set aside an additional budget of between £300,000 and £400,000 to build the bungalow out of a cutting-edge concrete.

Former BMX rider Adrian, 46, explained at the start of the project that his inspiration for using concrete came from his time spent at skate parts in Scotland as a youngster.

The couple opted for a pioneering Swiss ‘nano-concrete’ to bring the dream to life. The cutting-edge technology uses micro-reinforcing bits of glass fibre and shards of stainless steel to strengthen the concrete, a technique that has never been used outside of Switzerland.

‘It’s a great big brutal concrete bunker,’ Adrian enthuses. ‘Building in concrete is a really simple way to build a house.  You’re pouring concrete, you’re not messing around with bricks and mortar, and you’re not doing any of that. 

THE KITCHEN BEFORE: The kitchen of the family home, pictured, provided an example of the industrial effect created by the untouched concrete. On Kevin's return tonight, he finds the space feels warmer and more welcoming

THE KITCHEN BEFORE: The kitchen of the family home, pictured, provided an example of the industrial effect created by the untouched concrete. On Kevin’s return tonight, he finds the space feels warmer and more welcoming

THE MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE: The couple spent £500,000 on the initial site, which included a bungalow that they razed to the ground, to make way for the unique building that featured seven different levels of concrete. When Kevin last visited the property in October 2018 it was not watertight and still had major issues to resolve

THE MASTER BEDROOM BEFORE: The couple spent £500,000 on the initial site, which included a bungalow that they razed to the ground, to make way for the unique building that featured seven different levels of concrete. When Kevin last visited the property in October 2018 it was not watertight and still had major issues to resolve

THE LIVING ROOM BEFORE: The couple opt for a pioneering Swiss 'nano-concrete'. The cutting-edge technology uses micro-reinforcing bits of glass fibre and shards of stainless steel to strengthen the concrete

THE LIVING ROOM BEFORE: The couple opt for a pioneering Swiss ‘nano-concrete’. The cutting-edge technology uses micro-reinforcing bits of glass fibre and shards of stainless steel to strengthen the concrete

‘It’s about an honest building built out of a really truly, 21st century material with an incredible history but we’re using it in its most modern way it can be utilised… And we’re doing it on a budget.’ 

However they quickly ran into unexpected costs and end up spending £50,000 over budget, forcing Adrian to head off-shore on deep sea diving jobs to bring in extra cash.

‘We have had an absolute nightmare, we’ve got credit cards and god knows what up to our eyeballs,’ Megan admitted in one desperate moment. ‘We were pushed into this position where we couldn’t do anything.’    

During one visit, when Kevin learned the walls were not going to be polished, the presenter observed: ‘It’s pure and uncompromised… 

‘An aesthetic however, which is also going to be governed by the connotations of concrete, because underneath the questions of aesthetics lies a fundamental question: Could you live in a car park?’

When the presenter returned for a final visit in October 2018, upon seeing the almost-finished house Kevin branded it ‘unwelcoming’ and ‘a fortress, like an electricity substation’, although he ultimately appreciated what the couple had wanted to do. 

The building made way for small alcoves and pockets of space

Adrian and Megan added their own personal touches to make the house feel homely and less industrial building

THE PROPERTY BEFORE: The building made way for small alcoves and pockets of space. Adrian and Megan added their own personal touches to make the house feel homely and less industrial building, as seen left and right

THE GARDEN BEFORE: The outdoor swimming pool was created in a matching concrete setting to the house, each line flush with the angles of the house. Kevin returns to find the garden more mature and perfect for entertaining

THE GARDEN BEFORE: The outdoor swimming pool was created in a matching concrete setting to the house, each line flush with the angles of the house. Kevin returns to find the garden more mature and perfect for entertaining 

On his return in December 2020, Kevin was far more effusive, and said he was ‘blown away’ by how the couple had transformed the space into a family home. 

Adrian and Megan have added stylish furniture, quirky artwork and personal touches to create a modern bungalow that feels lived in and well-loved.

They use heavy curtains instead of doors between the bedrooms and have added skylights to flood the home with natural light – one of Kevin’s favourite features. 

‘The bunker is full of joy,’ Kevin notes. ‘They’re great rooms, they’re great high ceilings,’ he declares as he tours the space. He adds: ‘I am blown away by this transformation.’ 

Grand Designs airs tonight at 9pm on Channel 4  

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Selling your home? Here’s how to make sure it has kerb appeal by sprucing up outside space

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As anyone who has indulged in the brutal ‘swipe left’ culture of internet dating will testify, you don’t often get a second chance to make a first impression. And the same is true when trying to sell your property.

That’s why what lies at the front of your house — be it lawn, gravel or flagstones — can play a major role in making a sale.

Indeed, having a pleasing ‘shop front’ to snag potential buyers scrolling through listings or even walking past outside can offer leverage to boost the asking price, says Colby Short, CEO of estate agent comparison site getagent.co.uk.

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

Dress to impress: Colourful flower beds transform the look of a cottage in East Lothian, Scotland

‘Homes that offer a front garden carry a 4 per cent property price premium versus those without, and that equates to more than £11,000 in the current market,’ he says.

So what changes can you make to the patch in front of your house to help improve the saleability of the property?

Some alterations are simple, entry-level innovations. For example, even the smallest swatch of grass should be mown and rubbish-free. 

In fact, bins and recycling boxes are often the first thing you see in a front garden, as well as the detritus left by squirrels who have curated bits of dinner from your bags of rubbish. But it’s easy to hide bins away in a box unit.

‘If you’re trying to hide ugly bins, how about building a bin store with a planter on the top, then you can have some gorgeous outdoor succulents and flowering alpines?’ says QVC UK’s gardening expert Michael Perry. 

You can also buy wooden bin stores from outdoor furniture suppliers such as Wayfair (from £125.99).

Meanwhile, hanging baskets outside your front door help to break up a harsh brick wall, says Sean Lade, of Easy Garden Irrigation.

‘Hanging baskets are an excellent choice for adding colour and scent to your front garden and soften the front of your house. They should be installed at eye level —about 5 ft off the ground.’

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

Hanging baskets add colour and scent to a front garden and soften the front of a house

And think about replacing tired fencing or dilapidated brick walls with natural borders, such as Boxwood hedging, which will add visual interest and is also easy to prune throughout the year.

‘If you prefer a cottage garden appearance, then why not train climbing plants to create natural archways around your front door, porch or gate?’ says Deborah Cobb, product manager at builders’ merchants MKM.

‘Raised flower beds are also a clever way to add some natural foliage. If you fill them with evergreen shrubs, then they are an easy-to-look-after and low-maintenance option that will look good all year round.’

In terms of what plants to go for, Nicola Bird, founder of seed subscription service The Floral Project, suggests some annual flowers are perfect for planting at the front of your house if you’re looking to sell. 

‘They include varieties such as cosmos, phlox, zinnias and sweet peas — not only to bring a bright splash of colour to your front garden, but also serve as a great conversation starter with your potential buyers.’

Even if you don’t have a patch of grass in front of your home, there are other fundamentals which will help with the sale, says Jonathan Rolande, professional property buyer at housebuyfast.co.uk.

This includes jet-washing your path. And just before a visit from potential buyers, remove any vehicles, where possible, to help to create an impression of space.

‘Clean the windows, frames and front doors — and clean the house number,’ he says. ‘If the garden is mostly given over to parking, soften the look with pots and planters filled with bright flowers and attractive shrubs.’

 You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy

He adds that if you don’t have a lawn, terracotta planters on the front sills look great with fragrant plants such as lavender and rosemary appealing to the sense of smell, too.

If your front garden is really small, use decorative gravel such as pea shingle or slate chippings, suggests Thomas Goodman, property expert at homeowner and tradesman connection website myjobquote.co.uk.

‘This will give you an attractive, low-maintenance base for topping with a few nice plant pots.

‘Fix anything that’s broken, including gates, fences and walls. These detract from any nice planting and give the impression of a home that’s not properly maintained and is going to need work.’

Colby Short says some items in your garden should be permanently jettisoned to improve the chances of a sale.

‘You may think your garden gnomes are cute, but to a prospective buyer, they can be just plain creepy. The same goes for any large statues or display items, particularly if they are of a political, religious or risque nature.

‘When it comes to potential buyers, you want to present a blank canvas. But that doesn’t mean this canvas can’t look good and add appeal in its own right.’

On the market… with kerb appeal 

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Buckinghamshire: This four bedroom semi-detached cottage is on the edge of Denham Village. The bedrooms are spacious overlooking front and rear gardens. Struttandparker.com, 01753 481 781, £800,000

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

Suffolk: There are four bedrooms in this detached house in Old Newton. The property dates from the 16th century and has a thatched roof and mature gardens. Fineandcountry.com, 01379 646 020. £1.2m

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Elephant Park expands its retail offer (GB)

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Lendlease has announced the openings of two new spaces at Elephant Park: all-day kitchen and bar RAREBIT; and community garden store The Nunhead Gardener.

 

RAREBIT – the all-day kitchen and evening dining, bar, and grocery store – has opened its first brick-and-mortar location on Elephant Park’s casual dining hub, Sayer Street. The brand-new concept has a menu focusing on British favorites including the Welsh ‘rarebit’, and its grocery stocks a range of independent wines, craft beers, and coffee from East London coffee shop, Climpson & Sons. This selection is complemented by cheeses from Neal’s Yard Dairy, charcuterie from London Smoke & Cure, and produce from Natoora.

 

The Nunhead Gardener is the latest brand to move from one of Lendlease’s meanwhile units into a permanent space at Elephant Park, following the likes of Dima Beautiful, Beza Ethiopian Vegan, and bar and bottle shop The Tap In. The 900ft² unit on Sayer Street stocks a selection of indoor and outdoor plants, as well as specialty gardening tools, seeds, and seasonal scented candles.

 

Guy Thomas, Head of Place Assets at Lendlease, commented: “Both of these openings speak to our core values at Elephant Park, with a commitment to providing our local community with uses that are independent, sustainability-oriented, and unique. The arrival of RAREBIT adds a new cuisine to casual dining hub Sayer Street, and The Nunhead Gardener’s revamped permanent space has created a plant haven that we know local people will love.”

 

Mark Angell and Will Nias, Co-Founders of RAREBIT, said: “RAREBIT is about bringing a modern, fresh concept to people who want top-quality food and drink. Whether that be for grocery shopping or sit-down dining, we are so excited to be welcoming customers through our doors at Elephant Park. It is such a buzzing area, and we are proud to introduce RAREBIT to this diverse and vibrant environment.”

 

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Hotel Indigo debuts in Austria

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Hotel Indigo opened its first hotel in Austria, Hotel Indigo Vienna – Naschmarkt. Located a short walk from the city’s historic center, the hotel offers 158 guest rooms, a rooftop garden resembling an urban jungle, a restaurant, and a lobby bar.

 

Taking inspiration from a famed local architect, Otto Wagner, a key member of the Secessionist movement, guests will find touches of gold used throughout the fixtures in the bathrooms as well as intricate patterns, made famous by Otto, woven into the carpet design in the hallway, and the tiles behind reception. Otto’s love for gold, Art Nouveau design, and ornate patterns can also be seen at famous local buildings such as the Majolikahaus, a short walk from the hotel. From ground level, the building looks innocuous, but as guests look skywards, they will see the top floors are decorated with exquisitely sumptuous floral motifs in brightly colored porcelain and gold leaf, a hallmark of the new style.

 

Stefanie Augustin, General Manager, Hotel Indigo Vienna – Naschmarkt, commented: “We are pleased to open our doors and accept our first guests into the first Hotel Indigo in Austria. We sit in the heart of the surrounding neighbourhood and strive to make all the locals proud, by helping to bring a bit of that external story in so guests can truly experience what Vienna has to offer.”

 

 

 

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