Caruso St John Architects

1993–1994
Location: London, UK
Client: Private Client
Project Status: Built

This small studio and house in a North London mews is made within the walls of an existing two storey warehouse. The existing building was of various ages, and the idea of the new construction is to add further layers to make a new whole.

Modest materials (MDF, plasterboard, timber studwork, fibre cement panels, insulating glass) are used in their raw state so that their material presence is analogous to the rough brickwork and layers of paint of the existing building. The old walls are treated as a ground on which new claddings are laid selectively to give the interior a rich and ambiguous character.

Facing the mews, a new façade of translucent insulating glass is clamped over the window openings of the brick warehouse. The glass is like a silk screen, holding shadows cast by the surfaces and openings behind. The new window is visibly an assembly of individual pieces of glazing which are unframed.

At the back of the building a piece of floor is removed and a roof light with the dimension of a room is added above. The dramatic height and varying penetration of light gives the house an unexpected spatial complexity and a distance from the city outside.