Text description provided by the architects. Garden House is a new home, studio and gallery under a 'hanging-basket' roof for Whitaker Malem: the artist and costume-maker duo behind works by Allen Jones, fashion designers Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen and numerous film costumes including Harry Potter, Batman and Wonderwoman.
On the site of a single-storey workshop they self-built in the mid-1990s, the clients wished to create a new home and studio which maximised the space and natural light available within their tight, north-facing site behind Victorian terraced housing in Hackney's de Beauvoir Conservation area, London's East-End
Built within the original brick party walls they shared with their neighbours on all sides, the design was devised as three different roof pitches to create a ‘form of best fit’ – a negotiation between maximising internal accommodation and protecting adjacent residential amenity. Garden House sets a model of how to retrofit buildings and maximise residential accommodation in sensitive inner city areas.
The building is entered through a winter garden with a large skylight and mirror-polished stainless steel reveals which ricochet light around the entrance, distorting the scale of the space and the fall of light. This leads on a connected set of living spaces lit by natural light through sculpted shafts from the roof.
On the ground floor, storage and display for the owners’ art collection is provided in the form of bespoke white steel shelves that continue into a steel staircase that floats away from the wall, allowing natural light to pass behind it into the house.
The upper floor is lined with oak panelling to provide a rich environment for the studio, which is also used as a fitting room for clients and as a gallery space for private exhibitions of the owners' work. The space is naturally lit with a large top light and storage and desk space built for sewing machines and embroidery areas.
The roof is a bespoke hanging garden formed from lapped, stainless-steel profiles hung over a GRP membrane. Topped with this unique and visually dramatic 'hanging' garden, Garden House provides a prototype for brownfield development that offers dense, adaptable, urban living.