This project had an unusual start. Normally, clients come to us to do something they can’t do – design an extension or a block or flats or a house. One day, though, we got a call from someone who did have experience of designing buildings, but not in the UK.
He wanted to build himself an exciting new house in London, and was hoping to find a team who understood local planning policies and building regulations. He was looking for true collaborators – people who could make both practical and creative inputs to the project but wouldn’t try to nudge him away from his own vision.
It was a question we put to our team: are you happy to work like this, not to be the main creative force? The answer was: absolutely. Our architects are not divas.
And in the meantime, while our client was finding a site, something else had happened. The world had changed, and working on a design by video call had become something that we were doing all the time. The fact that for this project those video calls were going from continent to continent rather than one part of South London to another made little difference.
The plot our client had found had lots of advantages: it was big enough for the generous house he wanted, it was in a secluded spot (not easy to find in London!) and it was surrounded by trees.
The disadvantage? It was surrounded by trees. Which is to say, the trees are beautiful and are a huge asset to the site, but making sure that they aren’t harmed by the building of the new house required a great deal of care and attention.
The other limitation was the unusual shape of the existing house on the plot – we felt (and the trees again contributed to this) that it would be sensible to use the established footprint as a starting point.
But apart from those factors, this is one of those rare projects where what is possible outweighs what isn’t. In any other neighbourhood, this would be a large house – in this area, it’s actually fairly modest! Over four floors, including a basement, there are five bedrooms plus a games room, a gym, a studio, a huge living-dining room, two kitchens, walk-in wardrobes…
Plus, our client was aiming for something that was as exciting on the outside as the inside. We’ll leave it for you to judge whether the collaborative team behind this project achieved that
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