Dezeen Magazine

Sphinx Hill House by John Outram Associates

John Outram's Sphinx Hill house becomes youngest listed building in UK

An Egyptian-style, postmodern home designed by British architecture studio John Outram Associates in Oxfordshire has been Grade II-listed.

Completed by the studio in 1999, Sphinx Hill house has now become the UK's youngest listed building and forms one of five of John Outram Associates' (JOA) buildings that have been listed.

Exterior view of Sphinx Hill House in Oxfordshire
The Sphinx Hill house is the UK's youngest listed building

The two-storey home was commissioned in 1994 by a couple with a shared interest in ancient Egyptian culture – from which JOA took many architectural cues.

Described by Historic England as "a tour-de-force of domestic post-modernism", the home's eclectic facade features a symmetrical form, comprised of three colourful volumes topped with barrel-vaulted roofs.

Living space interior at Sphinx Hill House
The postmodern home takes cues from ancient Egyptian culture

An attic opening on the central volume was designed to resemble a giant eye of Horus, while black column capitals topped with terracotta circles reference the hieroglyph for the rising sun.

On the ground floor, the home is arranged around a cross-vaulted dining room, complete with Egyptian limestone flooring. Mosaics, bold-coloured columns and bronze details feature throughout the home.

The listing was announced just days before studio founder John Outram celebrated his 90th birthday.

"I am so pleased by news of the listing of Sphinx Hill – this was one of JOA's final projects, finished in the last weeks [of our last millennium]," Outram said.

Dining space within residence by John Outram Associates
Egyptian limestone flooring features on the interior

The application for the listing was made by the Twentieth Century Society, with the hopes of restricting any "unsympathetic alteration or demolition" to the property, following its sale for £2.3 million in December 2022.

"Sphinx Hill really is the most extraordinarily complex and ideas-packed house," Twentieth Century Society director Catherine Croft said.

"It's wonderful to see it become the youngest entry on the national register of listed buildings – and surely one of the most distinctive."

Pool within postmodern house by John Outram Associates
The property was sold in December 2022

Outram founded his practice JOA in 1973. Among the studio's most well-known projects is the Temple of Storms pumping station in London, which features a similarly colourful and patterned facade.

Elsewhere, Google and Jahn have released visualisations of the planned revamp for the postmodern James R Thompson Centre in Chicago and Snøhetta has completed a series of renovations to the postmodern AT&T building by Philip Johnson in New York.

The images are courtesy of the Twentieth Century Society.

More images

Sphinx Hill House by John Outram Associates
Sphinx Hill House by John Outram Associates
Sphinx Hill House by John Outram Associates