De Metz Forbes Knight Architects’ plans for a family home for football player Thierry Henry have been slammed by critics and the architect of an existing building on the site.
Henry asked DMFK to “improve the grandeur and status of the house” in Hampstead, north London, which he purchased in 2001. He wants to demolish the existing Richard MacCormac-designed building on the site.
His design brief includes “sufficient wardrobe space” and “a better swimming pool”, as well as space to entertain guests. In addition, DMFK is proposing an aquarium stretching from the basement to the second floor.
Catherine Croft, director at the Twentieth Century Society, said she would be submitting the 1999 building for listing consideration by English Heritage.
“The application will be controversial because the building is so young,” she said. “But as far as I know nothing by [Richard MacCormac] is listed and he’s one of the most influential architects of the late 20th century.”
In its design and access statement DMFK said: “It [the existing house] won no awards and is not presented or acknowledged as a significant work. While Richard MacCormac has dealt with a large range of building types and forms, luxury housing is not a key part of his oeuvre, and the house can be considered to make a minor contribution to his canon.”…
A planning application has been submitted to Camden Council and comments can be submitted until March 8.
As well as the vast cost of construction, the 15ft long by 3ft wide tank will set Henry back £12,000 a year to run, including weekly inspections at about £50 an hour. The annual bill for fish food alone would be £2,500.
The French footballer – who fronted the ‘va-va-voom’ TV adverts for car firm Renault – is the latest in a long line of celebrities including Madonna, the Beckhams, Cher and Premier League footballers Stephen Ireland, Joe Hart and Micah Richards, to splash out on opulent fish tanks.
Ireland has reportedly spent more than £100,000 on his 13ft aquarium, and is now believed to be planning a shark tank under his kitchen floor.
But Henry’s super-size version will dwarf them all.
is aquarium will actually be made up of four separate tanks, one for each storey of the house.
Each will be made of Perspex-like material and will give the optical illusion of one giant aquarium – but will be cheaper to clean, run and maintain than a single tank.
One industry expert last night said the £12,000-a-year bill for heating, cleaning and lighting the tanks would be just a fraction of the £80,000 it would cost to maintain one huge tank.
Each aquarium will require a filtration system to ensure the water stays clean and fresh. Experts say there are 2,000 species of marine life suitable for the tanks, ranging from smaller breeds of shark to clown fish, yellow tangs, blue tangs and angel fish.
It has been suggested that the celebrity obsession with aquariums has nothing to do with a fondness for fish.
One tank designer, who asked not to be named, said: ‘Our client list tends to be male-dominated and they are looking for status symbols and showpieces.’
Henry’s new home will be taller than the existing one and include a bar, a cinema and a swimming pool. Despite spending at least £2 million on rebuild costs, the finished house is likely to be worth at least £10 million.
The footballer is keen to highlight the eco-features of the new home, which includes extensive glass panelling to capture natural light and a so-called ‘biodiverse’ roof, which will incorporate plants and trees.
But the house’s original architect, Sir Richard MacCormac, is opposed to the proposed demolition.
Sir Richard, who also designed the Wellcome wing of the Science Museum, said last night: ‘I don’t think you improve sustainability by demolishing a house which is just 13 years old.
‘It surprises me that someone who can afford to build a new house and who claims to be serious about architecture should not simply build another one elsewhere.
‘I think my original design is well regarded locally and I think a lot of people are going to be upset.
‘The existing house has a very deliberate low-key design to ensure that it would not look out of place in the conservation area.’
The existing house clearly positively contributes to the conservation area and to my mind is a straightforward refusal/