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.
Fitzroy Park House in London, England by Stanton Williams Architects
June 2nd, 2015 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: Stanton Williams Architects
Stanton Williams were commissioned to create a new family home in North London within the Highgate Conservation area, replacing a late 1950s house.
The design strategy takes advantage of the sloping site by creating new additional spaces within the lower garden level. Above this a series of interlocking sculptural forms of glass, timber and stone emerge.
The house is surrounded by natural landscape. Its upper level with four bedrooms nestles amongst the tree canopies, with balconies and views to Hampstead Heath and beyond. The position of the new house is set back sensitively from Fitzroy Park with a minimal stone and metal bridge, allowing mature trees to be retained and enhancing its peaceful setting.
The bridge leads into the heart of the house, which opens up to views over a day-lit six metre double-height volume down to the lower garden level. Large sliding glass doors dissolve the boundary between inside and outside with external stone paving extending into the landscaped garden which gently curves around the house.
The living area flows into the dining room and kitchen, which in turn rolls back out to the garden. A set of stone stairs leads to a small swimming pool, which resonates with the presence of Hampstead ponds nearby.
Material references for the house reflect its natural setting. Cedar fencing and oiled Iroko balconies contrast with the dark timber envelope. Painted in dark grey, the timber brings additional texture and colour to the limestone on the exterior façade.
The crisp and sharp protective exterior layers give way to softer warm interior spaces, with an extensive oak ceiling and floor laid out in limestone in the main living spaces. Here, a rhythm of neatly arranged recessed lighting trays keeps the ceilings as uncluttered as possible and linear veining to the limestone floors directs views to the garden. For the bedrooms, timber is again brought internally for warmth, while the bathrooms are also clad in limestone. Refined ironmongery on doors and handrails are made in bronze.
Lighting throughout the house is minimal and generally concealed, washing walls and ceilings with soft warm reflected light. Concealed garden lighting illuminates planting and trees, drawing the eye to the outside and avoiding the effect of a mirrored glass interior. In turn, it enhances the sense of generous open plan living areas connected with their landscaped setting.
The addition of further tress and landscaping improves the site whilst also providing a private and secure environment for the family home. The house has a discreet presence from the road and steps down towards the neighbouring property to fully embed it within the landscape.
The house designed to be naturally ventilated and well insulated. New sedum roofs also help to blend the house into the surrounding natural setting. The bedroom timber sliding doors are set back from the balcony edge and shaded to reduce solar gain. The bedrooms also feature separate north facing openable slot windows to enable natural cross ventilation.
Skylights are strategically placed at various points in the house, bringing in daylight, whilst large sliding doors enable easy access to outdoor areas even at the upper level of the house. Windows to the north have elegant vertical timber slats that allow natural daylight into the house but also provide privacy. These details ensure that the family can engage with nature at every possible opportunity throughout the seasons. Embedded in a unique, rural-like setting, Fitzroy Park House manages to be at once protective and open.
The practice has developed its portfolio from an initial focus on museums and galleries towards a wide variety of projects, all of which demonstrate its overarching objective of putting the user’s experience of space, light and materials at the forefront of the agenda, as well as creating places that sensitively respond to their cultural, social and physical context.
Completed projects include: the new campus for the University of the Arts London at King’s Cross, King’s Cross Square, the Sainsbury Laboratory in the University of Cambridge’s Botanic Garden, the Britten Pears Archive in Aldeburgh, Hackney Marshes Centre and the London 2012 legacy venue – Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre.
Current projects include: Musée d’Art in Nantes, an arts centre for Lincoln College in Oxford, masterplan for the Judge Business School in Cambridge, a research building for Great Ormond Street Hospital, the Royal Opera House ‘Open Up Project’, a student residential building at King’s Cross and a number of high-end residential projects in Central London.
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