White on White

Gianni Botsford Architects, London, 2013


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Study in use 

James Morris     Download Original

  • Study in use    
  • Interior view towards the canal    
  • View from the canal at dusk    
  • View from the interior    
  • Table detail    
  • Library    
  • Daytime view from the canal    
  • Elevation context    
  • Plan Context    
  • Section Context    
  • Glass frit pattern unfolded    
  • Plan Detail    
  • Section Detail    
  • Interior model view from existing house    
  • Atmosphere concept    
  • Detail section    

Extension to provide a separate study to a family house

The client required a ‘jewel like’ extension to provide a study. It was to have a strong connection to the garden and crucially not to draw attention to itself from the other side of the canal for reasons of privacy. The aim therefore was to dematerialise the room within the existing white stucco elevation of the house and yet to have a strong internal presence.

Instead of contrasting with the existing architecture, it is made to be invisible when viewed from afar. This was achieved by carefully selecting the materials - unframed ultra clear low iron glass; a white frit to camouflage the glass with a bespoke pattern relating to the garden, the view and the water; white structural silicone instead of the usual black; and the structure subsumed into the glass panels themselves.

Although tiny, with a small library area of 1m x 1.2m and a study of 2.3m x 2.7m, the sense of space, surrounded by garden and sky, is a surprise. All interior walls, floor, ceiling and furniture are formed from a white seamless Corian. Walking from the kitchen, the floor becomes the seating and the whole space has been pushed into the ground so that the desk is at the same level as the garden - this is partly to reduce the impact of the studio on the garden and to make the inhabitants less visible from the canal at the end of the garden, but also to celebrate looking out through the low level planting and grass.

The lighting is further used to screen the extension from view and to avoid the feeling of sitting in a black box at night. By grazing the fritting along its length with light both internally and externally and carefully balancing the light levels, the glass becomes partly opaque, like a virtual curtain.

Commissioned as a study for the two parents, it has quickly been taken over by the kids (on condition that it is left empty after use) as a homework, drawing and study room, a hot desking environment for a family of five.


  • Begun: Jan 2012
  • Completed: Apr 2013
  • Floor area: 8m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £65,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Nov 2011
  • Procurement: Minor Works
  • Address: Camden, London, NW1, United Kingdom

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