Grand Designs

Time Schedule

Mon 13:00 | Tue 17:00 | Thu 21:00 | Fri 09:00 | Sat 11:00 & 18:00 | Sun 15:00 & 22:00

Overview

Presented by design expert Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs charts the in-depth process of ambitious design projects, from the initial intricacies of blueprints to the long and often arduous task of turning those concepts into a practical living space.

With budgets usually pushed beyond their limits and time ticking away, Grand Designs is a unique opportunity to discover how elaborate architecture plans work in practice and depicts the hard realities and emotional journey of creating a dream home.

19 – 25 Aug: Episode 2 – Hertfordshire

Professors Celia Brackenridge and Diana Woodward boldly volunteer to become guinea pigs in a unique building experiment. They risk blowing their entire life savings on a group of dynamic young designers who want to build the world’s first computer–cut house. Problem is neither Celia, Diana nor the designers have ever built a house before.

The plan is to take technology developed by furniture makers and adapt it to construct a fabulous, strikingly modern new home. A mobile mini factory will be brought to site to churn out dozens of timber boxes. These will then be bolted together like giant wooden lego blocks in just a few days. In theory Celia and Diana will get their perfect home at cost price, so long as it all actually works.

As the project begins, it rapidly becomes clear this experimental house is far more complex than anyone realized. Celia and Diana and their novice builders face an emotional rollercoaster ride as they struggle with a building system that’s never been tried before and doesn’t quite go together as planned. With the designers desperate to make their mark on the world, a frustrated Celia and Diana are left increasingly side-lined, demanding to know “whose house is this anyway”?

Episode 3 – Brixton

Design mad couple Mary Martin and Carl Turner attempt to build something never seen before amongst the traditional Victorian terraces of Brixton – a home that resembles a giant stack of glass cubes.
Minimalism obsessed Mary and her architect partner Carl have spent years renovating their homes to be as simple to live in as possible. But this project is bigger and more ambitious than anything they’ve taken on before. On the outside they want their startling glass structure to become an instant South London landmark. On the inside, a Zen retreat from the noise and chaos of the capital. But to pull it off is going to push their finances to the limit.
In order to save money, Carl decides he has to take on as many of the specialist build jobs as he can. The results are hair raising as the cranes and steel frames hit the narrow plot – and Carl’s precise designs are in real jeopardy. By the time the precious glass cladding arrives, it’s decision time. What’s more important, cutting costs or fulfilling their vision and getting the house built properly?
But Carl’s biggest test lies ahead – when it comes to finishing the minimalist interior. The tiniest error in the detailing could ruin all the blood sweat and tears he’s put into building this urban sanctuary – not to mention the backlash from Mary if there’s a hint of ‘clutter’…

Episode 4 – River Thames

Modern architecture obsessed Lysette and Nigel Offley attempt to build a dramatic new cutting edge home smack bang in the middle of a Thames riverside community dominated by expensive traditional houses. It’s a battle not only against their indignant neighbours, but also the river itself.

Most people would be delighted to live in a charming old boat-house by the Thames – but not Lysette and Nigel.  Their first instinct was to knock the whole thing down and start again with a contemporary home designed by Lysette’s ex-husband, an architect.
Their house will take inspiration from the river, with waves and curves, and a huge glass porthole of a roof-light.  But just a few weeks into their project, having knocked down the original boat house, the problems begin. They can’t find a contractor willing to tackle the difficulties of building over the water, their architect unexpectedly leaves and the costs come in much higher than anticipated. They suddenly find themselves stuck renting for months on end, with designs for a beautiful house they don’t have enough money to build and no one to build it. Painful compromises are inevitable. Can they still achieve their vision of a building that will change the architectural language of the river forever? And what will their angry neighbours make of it all?

Episode 5 – Kennington

It’s the 100th episode of Grand Designs and to mark this momentous event – a truly momentous project. Couple Leigh Osborne and Graham Voce will attempt to convert and extend a landmark 150 year old, 100 foot high, water tower right in the heart of central London. Grade II listed, but utterly derelict, with six foot thick walls and crowned with a huge steel tank – it’s an almighty task. As presenter Kevin McCloud says himself “‘I’ve seen the odd water tower conversion before – but none as daunting or as terrifying as this one.”
And if restoring the tower isn’t challenging enough, Graham and Leigh also plan to build two additional contemporary structures at the base: a new lift shaft connected to the tower by a series of glass tunnels and a modern living space nicknamed the ‘Cube’. Altogether this cluster of buildings will create a four bedroom luxury home, over nine floors, crowned with a spectacular viewing room at the top of the tower. Housed inside the old giant cast iron tank, this room will offer 360 degree views across London.
The downside is that all this has to be done within a ludicrously tight schedule – as Graham and Leigh only have access to the land around the tower for 4 months.
Their solution is to throw money and people at the project and build as fast as they can. But straight away, the foundations cost thousands more than predicted. Conservation of the outside of the tower, deemed by English Heritage at risk of collapse, proves even more extensive than feared. With build costs hitting £35,000 a week, soon the budget crashes through the million pound mark and the deadline to complete this astonishing place is in serious jeopardy…

Episode 6 – West London

Audrey and Jeff Lovelock are desperate to live in one of West London’s most exclusive areas – but the only way they can afford it is to go underground. Their plan is to transform a listed Edwardian artist’s studio – along with 5000 square feet of derelict basement rooms below – into a bespoke, subterranean home – including a supersize kitchen dining area, a new mezzanine sitting room, four en-suite bedrooms, a gym, large cinema room, steam room and wine cellar.

But buying this labyrinthine place requires an almighty leap of imagination. With it’s 13 different levels and 25 interconnecting rooms – it’s questionable whether it can ever make a desirable home, especially given 90 per cent of the rooms have no natural light.

Despite this almighty task, Audrey not only intends to project manage, but design the whole place herself – without an architect. Straight away, the difficulties mount up. Without detailed architects’ drawings, confusion proves inevitable. Getting light into the depths is a constant challenge. And as the schedule falls behind, the fundamental challenges of building underground lead to a bitter bust up with the contractors – leaving Audrey to go solo on the project.

Whether this giant hole in the ground will be a triumph, or a disaster, remains in the balance to the last. Either way, it’s an eye-watering lesson in how to wrangle space from beneath the ground and have the gumption to risk millions in the process.

Episode 7 – Skye

Artist Indi Waterstone has dreamed of building a house inspired by nature ever since she was a teenager. Now, along with partner Rebecca, she’s going to do just that – in one of the most remote and beautiful landscapes in Britain – the Isle of Skye.
The plan is to build something totally different from the traditional white-washed stone buildings that dot the island. Their new home will be an architect designed miniature jewel in the Scottish landscape  – a contemporary larch-clad, turf roofed ‘lozenge’ designed to withstand gale force winds and blend in with its spectacular surroundings.
Alongside the main house artists Rebecca and Indi will also put up a handcrafted sculpturally shaped art studio, perfectly positioned with views to inspire them for the rest of their lives – and all on a remarkably tight budget of just £150,000.
They’ve scrimped and saved for years to raise every penny for the build – but making it happen will mean taking on the savage weather, as well as the sceptical locals. And if that weren’t challenge enough, their house is virtually being built by one man – redoubtable local builder, Donald.

Episode 8 – Camden

What happens when finding land to build on is impossible, when all the churches and warehouses have already been converted, when all that’s left are the higgledy piggledy ramshackle spaces between other buildings…?

Architect Henning Stummel and his partner Alice Dawson take on an awkward, jagged covered space, trapped between other buildings in the crowded heart of North London. The ambitious plan is to convert this dilapidated old joinery workshop into a contemporary family home and office for Henning’s practice.

The workshop is hardly a building at all. This Edwardian joinery workshop  was just thrown together by borrowing its neighbours’ walls and simply roofing the left over space between the existing Victorian houses. But remarkably, rather than gutting the whole thing, Alice and Henning want to preserve the rusty original steel frame. To restore it, they’ll have to take it down. And that means painfully extracting it from their neighbours’ walls, without pulling down their houses too.

But that’s just the start of the difficulties presented by this random space, never intended to be lived in. Sections of neighbours’ roofs must be replaced, the steel frame proves utterly rotten through, and nothing is straight or true in this eccentric, cobbled together building. As the schedule falls behind, it’s a struggle to get anything to fit properly and it seems like this wonky site might just get the better of them…

Episode 9 – Isle of Wight Revisit

Two years ago, architectural designer Lincoln Miles and his wife, artist Lisa Traxler, found an uninspiring 70’s bungalow on the Isle of Wight. On a prime piece of land, surrounded by unspoilt ancient woodland, they set about upscaling it to suit their needs. As well as transforming the old bungalow into a contemporary new home they added a 3-storey ‘tower’ extension which opens onto the forest, and a bedroom that nestles in the treetops.

Lisa and Lincoln were brave enough to embrace alternative materials and try their hands at some unconventional techniques, but have they paid off? Now Kevin returns find out if smothering the cement board in yoghurt and cow poo was a good idea and whether the burnt larch cladding has helped the building settle into it’s woodland setting. More importantly, has this extraordinary example of ‘bungalow gobbling’ given Lisa and Lincoln the lives they always wanted?

Episode 10 – Kensington Revisit

In 2010 Claire Farrow, Ian Hogarth and their two children embarked on an adrenalin-fuelled journey to build the ultimate fun family home – right in the heart of London. Included would be a dance floor, sauna and DJ booth – but the only plot they could find was someone’s back garden at the end of a mews, backing perilously onto a railway line.

To get the space for all their toys, they had to dig down to create a huge new basement. Building it proved a nightmare, as angry locals objected, a digger smashed into a neighbour’s wall and an old river re-emerged to make the site resemble a swimming pool. Forced to move in before it was finished, the eco-technology that would power the house still had to be plumbed in, and Ian’s sauna was barely out of its box.

Now a year later Kevin McCloud returns to find whether they’ve made peace with their angry neighbours and whether their multi-storey family fun palace has truly become everything they’ve had always wanted.

Episode 11 – Braintree Revisit

Two years ago artists Freddie Robins and Ben Coode-Adams left their cramped two bedroom London flat and took on the conversion of a huge grade two listed timber framed barn in the Essex countryside. Seven times the size of an average three bedroom house, turning this 500 year old building into a home provided Ben & Freddie with their biggest canvas yet, for their greatest work.

Rejecting all things “cosy”, Ben and Freddie created a massive free-form live /work space for themselves and their daughter Willa. With very few walls, the vast space of the barn was furnished with their ever-expanding odd-ball collection of toys and ephemera. Now, a year after they finished the project, Kevin returns to discover how Ben and Freddy are adjusting to rural life. Has the experience changed them as artists? Has the cavernous barn made a comfortable family home? And is it finally big enough to house the magic museum of Ben and Freddy?

Episode 12 – Brighton Co-op Revisit

In the last Century, on the first ever series of Grand Designs, a younger Kevin McCloud witnessed a ground breaking co-operative of ten families build their own homes on the edge of Brighton.

‘The Hedgehogs’ as they were known, were made up of former travellers and those living in insecure accommodation.  The council bought them land and covered the cost of construction – the deal being that in return for their labour, and lots of it, they would get to live in their self-built homes at reduced rent. Unpaid, they slogged away for over two years on this pioneering venture,  based on revolutionary designs from architect Walter Segal.

A decade later, Kevin returns to see if the houses and the families that built them have stood the test of time – and finds himself genuinely inspired by what the project has allowed a small community to achieve.