And today? Today, in spite of its fascinating history, the property is now on sale in a solely private market for £12.000.000.
The analysis of this case study shows how listed private properties often carry a meaningful and abundant history, contain concealed mysteries, or were simply once occupied by interesting tenants who added a special value to the house. Nonetheless, like in the case of Old Battersea House, these historic gems and their intrinsic values remain hidden from the community and public at large, closed-up with merely private functions. In these terms, it appears that the property has lost its identity and character, slowly becoming a ‘private gadget home’ rather than a ‘home for the community’: it went from being a private residency with the aim of welcoming inside any member of the community to share history, art and way of living to be a hidden and secret place behind a brick wall. Then, it is in a scenery like that one of Battersea, which is currently seeing its history disappearing to give always more space to private housing, that this scheme makes its entrance (English Heritage, 2013, p. 1). This “house is not an object” (Holl, 2007, p. 6). This house is “home to many things” and should not be experienced as only a physical space delineated by four walls and a roof (Busch, 1999, inside cover), but as a “lived space” (Pallasmaa, 2005, p. 64).
By undertaking Old Battersea House as a potential National Trust case – which would allow the rescue of a significant building for the benefit of the community – the goal of this study is, therefore, to restore the historic values of Old Battersea House by revealing an architectural experience of its original use to be relived by the public, posing the question:
How can this study intervene to allow the greater community to relive, enjoy and learn from the property’s rich historical layers?