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Working in Occupied Premises


Architect's Description


This new house in Hampstead is a return ‘home’ for the client who was brought up as a child in the adjacent house - ’The Firs’ – a listed building by the celebrated modernist Patrick Gwynne.  When the clients parents sold the Firs they safeguarded the site - originally a tennis court within The Firs grounds - to return to the family in 2006.


Memory played a vital part in designing the new house as a place for the retired couple to live, welcome family , entertain and contemplate their extensive collection of contemporary art and ancient ceramics.


The house is conceived as a 3 dimensional arrangement of settings which ‘capture’ and extend the surrounding landscape deep into the interior.  Following themes developed in our Portobello Road house, we aimed at creating a sense of more expansive landscape within what is otherwise a rather enclosed site.  The sculptural form is a synthesis of carefully orchestrated views to surrounding trees, orientation to sunlight and more pragmatic solutions to the many restrictions of the site concerning issues of overlooking, overshadowing, existing drains, protected trees etc.  At the same time the design successfully overcame the extreme demands of its location within a sensitive conservation area and proximity to a listed building.


The theme of dwelling and landscape is interpreted materially as an expression of the dialogue between earth and sky, shadow and light.  The ground floor is conceived as a series of landscape fragments of heavyweight masonry and textured concrete supporting a lightweight timber upper storey, ‘tree-house like’ in character.   A basement of exposed concrete contains the physical activities of gymnasium, sauna and steam room.


The ground floor contains primary living spaces and dedicated studies for each of the client.  The larger of the two is enclosed by a top lit curved concrete wall which re-presents garden landscape to the interior and provides the setting for display of ancient pots and listening to music. 


The first floor is of entirely timber construction and accommodates the master bedroom suite and two guest bedrooms.  Fenestration is carefully arranged to receive morning light, a view of the setting sun from the main bedroom and views into the canopies of surrounding trees.

BREEAM Assessment
Multi-disciplinary Design Team
Consultation Process
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