White Oak House

Paul McAneary Architects, London, 2015

 

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A remodelled apartment in Hampstead for a Japanese family involving the deconstruction of its original compartmented arrangement to create a fluid open-plan environment.

This radical remodelling of an apartment in London’s Hampstead transforms a cellular interior into a set of fluid, open-plan spaces. Given the client is Japanese, such an approach might have been anticipated. Yet the outcome has a formal and experiential resonance beyond the usual clichés. The simple act of removing partition walls and adding new elements activates spatial relationships in new ways, and the material palette draws on natural textures to cultivate a studiedly neutral aesthetic.

In a series of controlled moves, the plan is deconstructed from its original compartmented arrangement and opened up to create a sense of tranquil spaciousness. The master bedroom now extends the full width of the plan and the enlarged L-shaped living space combines dining and kitchen functions. Freeing up the plan meant reconsidering arrangements for fire protection and this prompted the design of an ingenious pop-up fire lobby. If smoke is detected, an extra door swings into place over the main entrance to provide the necessary fire resistance.

Views and light are diffused through translucent blinds, which resemble contemporary versions of traditional shoji (rice paper) screens, bathing the interior in a soft radiance. New bespoke elements frame and define space but are also multi-functional: for instance, an exquisite oak cabinet is both a bench and light fitting. Other materials include bamboo decking for the roof terraces and travertine for the bathroom floors. Crisply cubic bedroom furniture was specially designed incorporating table tops resembling veneer, an adaptable and highly economic solution.

Through a design and build contract the practice controlled all detailing, construction and sequencing of trades. Such attention to detail, which included selecting the furniture and fittings, creates a modern gesamtkunstwerk in the manner of Danish Modernist Arne Jacobsen, where carefully considered individual parts coalesce to form a compelling whole.

Data

  • Begun: Feb 2012
  • Completed: Mar 2015
  • Floor area: 150m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £200,000
  • Tender date: Dec 2011
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works Building Contract
  • Address: Hampstead, London, NW3 , United Kingdom

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