UK: 575 Wandsworth Road is a modest terraced house in London that is a work of art. Over two decades, Khadambi Asalache, a Kenyan-born poet, novelist, math philosopher and British civil servant, renovated the house and turned it into a breathtaking structure. The Wandsworth Road was known to be the home of Khadambi Asalache until he died in 2006. Following his death, Asalache left it to the National Trust, which opened the house as a museum for pre-booked guided tours.
Know here: Life story of Kenyan-born poet Khadambi Asalache
Khadambi Asalache was born in Kenya. Asalache studied architecture and fine art in Nairobi before immigrating to London in 1960. Asalache purchased the property in 1981 and began to fill the house with hand-carved embellished walls, each room highlighting his vision and artistry.
The impetus for this project was a commercial laundry next door moisture from the laundry led to wet basement walls. Asalache thought to mask the dampness by covering it up with wood panels.
Initially, he added pine floorboards to the damp wall but extended the wood coverings into an extensive art project. Using reclaimed wood, Asalache used a pad saw and drill to create artistic jewel box-like interiors reminiscent of rural Kenyan, Moorish and even Ottoman designs. He carved fretwork patterns and motifs into the wood by hand and complemented the woodwork with painted decorations, art, and books from his collection.
Over twenty years, he turned his home into a work of art, and in 2006 Mr Asalache passed away, leaving his home and all its contents to the conservation charity, the National Trust. With its core purpose to look after special places for everyone forever, 575 Wandsworth Road is now cared for and opened up by a small but dedicated staff and volunteers.