Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Book Tower House in Hampstead, London by Platform 5 Architects
February 21st, 2013 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Platform 5 Architects
Our brief was to refurbish a typical late Victorian mid-terraced house in Hampstead, London. The original property contained some Arts and Crafts influenced decorative aspects, which the owners were keen to retain and highlight, while introducing contemporary interventions to create fresh, modern living spaces.
The main feature of the house is a double height library space at the heart of the house, created by combining the original rear reception room and a first floor bedroom. Library oak veneered plywood with solid lippings and cappings was used to build a series of bookcases arranged around a new feature staircase.
A stepped arrangement of shelves mirrors the stairs, creating a strong, rhythmical sense of movement through the space. At the top of the stairs, a built-in desk has been incorporated into the landing to create a small study area with a commanding view over the ground floor.
During the day, the light-coloured wood and white walls reflect daylight to create a pleasant place to work or relax. At night the space is transformed again by integrated LED lights in the shelves that illuminate the books and cast a soft reflected light across the room.
The effect of this intervention is to transform what might otherwise have been an uninteresting hallway – an area for quickly passing from room to room – into a generously-proportioned and relaxing space where the owners and guests can stop and pass the time.
To the rear of the house, a side extension to the existing kitchen was created by resting an oak rib and skin structure, externally clad in zinc, onto the brick party wall. This articulates the structure, and the timber spars are used to diffuse the light coming into the dining room from roof lights above and a wide rear door, while also creating a series of niches against the internal wall.
Corner lap joints to the timber spars have been arranged so that the shoulder and cheek of the joints are alternatively expressed. The timber contrasts pleasingly with materials used elsewhere in the kitchen including poured concrete work surfaces or high gloss kitchen units.
Externally, the rear extension offers a powerful contrast with the Arts and Crafts features of the original house and the cool, reflective feel of the new library space. Large new door and window openings – including an impressive corner window – are placed in the brickwork to give an angular and uncompromisingly contemporary appearance and provide a strong counterpoint with the vernacular language of neighbouring properties. At the same time the external materials – predominantly brick and metal – contrast again with the extensive use of original and new timber inside the house.
This project uses space and materials extremely well to create a home that is full of contrasts and surprises. Timber has been used both to knit together spaces at the heart of the house or to create new space to the rear. Taken as a whole, these interventions offer a new take on remodelling the typical Victorian terraced house.
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