Project in Detail
London, United Kingdom
Groves Natcheva Architects Ltd., London, United Kingdom
Vertical view through building
This is a project for a new family house in London. Our strategy is to sculpt together the land and the house, creating a simple form which responds directly to the site planning restrictions, tight boundary conditions and its immediate context.
Sitting on the edge of a conservation area and closely surrounded by two-storey, 1930’s bay fronted London terrace houses the building has a quiet confidence – unashamedly modern yet humble in its form and materiality. Using a prefabricated concrete panel system the house is built in the Kastell factories in Germany and assembled on site in three weeks.
When viewed externally, the three-storey house is seen as two pure, white rendered cubes, which spiral up from the basement and lock into a series of half-level external and internal spaces.
The white cubes are punctuated with dark metal windows and panels. The panels are carefully composed to give the house a defensive quality and to present a smooth surface in the places most frequently touched. The panels and painted plaster walls are conceived as 3-dimensional forms, to emphasize the cube shapes and the stepped sections.
It is only on the inside that the true structure of the building is revealed – a central staircase of exposed concrete, with a series of half landings, holds the centre of the house and commands all the spaces around it. This brings a labyrinthine quality to the spatial relationships, offering long and short views vertically and horizontally through the building, all punctuated by shafts of light and bold colours. Each space within the house refers to the central staircase and is also offered views to other spaces, giving the house a sense of its extent. For example, when entering the house from the ground floor entrance hall one gets a glimpse down into the kitchen area through the open risers of the timber staircase, whilst simultaneously a shaft of light from above draws the eyes to the study area above. These glimpses hint at what is in store in the house and offer connections between the internal spaces, which unfold as the house is inhabited.
The land on all sides of the house is set at levels to match the varying internal levels of the house. The boundary walls externally are treaded in a way as to create volumes that complete the internal spaces, so the extent of the house is that of the land.
Groves Natcheva Architects Ltd.