Text description provided by the architects. The brief called for a variety of spaces, offering expansive settings for gathering, and inviting inner sanctums for moments of solitude or contemplation.This was all to be set within a house of sufficient stature and repose to address the massive mid-Victorian townhouses on all sides.
The clients drew an analogy between their new house and a tailored suit - recognisable, elegant and simple when viewed as a whole, but revealing individuality and material opulence in detail.
A house previously stood on the site but, was destroyed by bombing in WW2. Since then, the locality has been designated a Conservation Area and neighbouring buildings have acquired Rights to Light.Winning Planning Permission therefore involved delicate and protracted multilateral negotiation.
A series of models were produced to develop the building’s complex, bevelled form and its stone and render façade. A selection of these studies were recently exhibited by the RIBA at the ‘Architecture Open’ Exhibition and the ‘Guerrilla Tactics’ event; they are now permanently on display at Portland Place.
Despite the local sensitivities, the five bedroom house is neither a resurrection of the pre-existing building, nor an aggregation of responses to different legislative requirements. Instead, the project seeks to reconcile a new London house type, subtly differentiated from its forbears. Conceived as a series of layers receding from the street, the house’s façades are variously lifted, punctured or fanned open to allow light to the interior.
The street façade - in overlayed planes of loadbearing Roman- format brick, render and Carrara Arabescato marble – refers to its classic neighbours’ proportions. The massive treatment of the front part of the house is dissolved along the flank façade, which is cranked outwards to gather light, tracing a faultline in the urban grain. The sheer, brickwork wall gives way to a screen of stone fins that conceal sheer glazing behind.This barrier affords privacy and filtered light to both the occupants and their neighbours.
These contrasting planes of striated, abrasive textures and sumptuous, textured stone are interrupted by tall, bronze- framed windows. Fitted with either sheer glazing or solid bronze ventilation panels and backed by internal shutters, they reveal the depth of the construction.
Construction of the 185sqm, five-bedroom house will commence in January 2013, with completion due early 2014.