The Bartlett School of Architecture


#549 The Ferns

Anusha Siddapur

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This project began in December 2017, when I became interested in concrete as a medium and material, and culminated unexpectedly in my discovery of builder Charles Drake’s house in East Dulwich, London. My first impression was its apparent timelessness – conveyed through the concrete, the windows, the style.

Constructed in the late 1800s, moving through multiple ownerships by the 2000s, the house had become severely neglected, but in 2011, it acquired a grade II listing, thus saving it from planned demolition and instead opening the way for its conservation by The Regeneration Practice. 

My project has grown from an interest in understanding the use of concrete in architecture from the 1800s until today, via a study of Drake’s own ideas and techniques through research and drawing, to looking at conservation as a medium that maintains the continuity of history alongside the present.

Along with architecture, a wide range of topics come together to create and recreate this house – archaeology, conservation, materiality, skills, techniques, workmanship. Such an array of themes have led me to ask two related questions: ‘to what extent are modern buildings and production experiences an extension of older experiences?’ and, ‘can we find a new way of looking at conservation in the twenty-first century?’