Originally, back in the 19th Century, 5 Thurloe Square was an artist’s studio. Nowadays, it’s a pricey piece of property offering up a number of flats. Accommodations within the iconic skinny building are valued at anywhere between £850,000 and well north of £1 million!
Despite looking impossibly narrow from the south-west corner of Thurloe Square, it’s actually triangular, meaning it widens—albeit undramatically—from its skinniest point. It’s definitely one of London’s coolest optical illusions!
Where is London’s super skinny house?
You’ll find Thurloe Square between South Kensington tube station and the V&A museum. Many of the houses on the square were designed by London architect George Basevi, a student of neo-classical architect Sir John Soane. They were all fairly traditional, boasting beautiful columned porches at their entrances. However, about twenty years later, 23 houses in the square were sold to the Metropolitan District Railway (now ‘the Tube’), despite uproar from landowner H.B. Alexander.
In the end, only five houses (1 to 5 Thurloe Square) were demolished. However, many of the surviving buildings did have their back gardens slashed in size. A year later, in 1868, South Kensington station opened to the public.
In the late 19th century, Kensington and Chelsea were known as a hub for art, so loads of artists were building studios in the area. A local builder named William Douglas saw this as an opportunity to fill the little triangle that 1-5 Thurloe Square left behind after they were knocked down. Amazingly, he designed and built seven artists’ studios in this meagre space, in the form of the current wedge-shaped building we see today.
5 Thurloe Square today
The building, now flats, is just 6ft wide at it’s narrowest point, growing to 34ft at its widest. Despite its size, it’s the location that is to blame for its hefty price tag. In 2016, a one bedroom apartment—at just 600 sq ft in size—went on sale for £895,000. More recently, in December of 2020, a flat in Thurloe Square was sold for £855,000. At that price, the property was valued at £1,261 per square foot. Clearly, it’s true what they say: location, location, location!
Also published on Medium.