London, United Kingdom
Two industrial designers required a place to live and work, as well as a sanctuary that could help them escape from the bustling city. The perfect location was found on a very constrained site in an industrial alleyway that runs parallel to Bethnal Green Road, a busy shopping street in London.
Design concept and solution: The building is designed to minimize views so as to create a sense of shelter from the outside world. The studio and living spaces are arranged as two interlocking L-shaped forms, with a balcony overlooking the studio carved out of the bedroom wall. Bound on three sides by two-story party walls, from the street the building is expressed as a foreign object “wedged” into the existing structures. The design provides a bold counterpoint to the disheveled alleyway but the pared down neutrality of materials and anonymity of the entrance minimizes intrusion.
The whole design is expressed as a series of block-like forms and carved-out spaces, starting with the street façade, which is expressed as an elegant double-height glass box overhanging a painted ground-floor entranceway, which is set back to create a threshold to the alley. The studio entrance folds back completely, opening the studio space onto the alley. When closed, the building is shielded from the outside entirely, with light filtering in from the north-facing clerestory window and a light well at the southern end. You have to ascend the stair to the upper floor terrace to regain a sense of your location in the city.
The interiors of the studio and house are crystalline white, providing a blank canvas for the interplay of light and shadow.
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