The London-based Delfina Foundation, a non-profit foundation dedicated to facilitating cultural exchange with a special focus on the greater Middle East and North Africa, will expand from their townhouse at 29 Catherine Place, near Buckingham Palace, to an adjacent building at 31 Catherine Place. The expansion will double the Foundation’s residency to offer at least 32 residencies a year for artists, curators and writers, making it the largest international artist residency provider in London when it reopens in Autumn 2013. In keeping with the Foundation’s beliefs to promote collaborative understanding across cultures, London-based Studio Octopi and Cairo-based Shahira Fahmy Architects have been awarded first prize for their expansion proposal which will retain the domesticity of the two houses and explore the notion of the hearth in a home. More about the expansion after the break.
In a proposal that is both fresh and contextual, the layers of the townhouse will be peeled back to reveal its historic craftsmanship in select areas. This will be complemented by more contemporary finishes that allow the older textured surfaces to speak the life of the building. Studio Octopi explained, “The embodied history of a place is important to our studio’s work as a whole. At Delfina Foundation we are proposing a playful exploration centered around the idea of the hearth as a ‘homeplace’ and ‘place-maker’.” The architects have also opened up the two buildings to bring in more light and create 1650 square feet of exhibition and event space, as well as 8 bedrooms with flexible artist workspaces throughout the property. “In doing this merger between the two houses, we can preserve the essence of each house and not lose the atmosphere that makes the one…leaving traces of the voids from the old staircases that are not needed in the new scheme, allows the visual and perceptual connectivity of what makes the house and its layers present,” added Shahira Fahmy. As the UK-based firm, Studio Octopi will lead the design development, construction documents, preparation of bid documents, planning applications, construction administration and oversight. As always, we will keep you updated on the progress of the expansion.