SE5: Garden Library

Turner Architects, London, 2017


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

SE5: 1 

Adam Scott (website)     Download Original

  • SE5: 1    
  • SE5: 2    
  • SE5: 3    
  • SE5: 4    
  • SE5: 5    
  • SE5: 6    
  • SE5: 7    
  • SE5: 8    
  • SE5: 9    
  • Existing Front elevation A4    
  • existing site plan updated    
  • Proposed site plan A4    
  • Proposed Front elevation A4    
  • Proposed large scale plan A4    
  • Proposed long section BB    
  • Proposed short section AA    

A library, under a tree, at the end of the garden.

The brief was for a study, spare room and storage for a growing family, where an extension to their flat was prohibitively complex. Planning required a metre hiatus and so, to fit it all in, we looked to the heavens to create a space led by thought and elevated by the heavy weight of books above, and the lightness of the open air.

The design celebrates and values its foundations by using the permanence of concrete to create a sense of solidity that performs very modern functions: a place for the brightly coloured plastic a young family collects. Using the metre set back, the raised planters provide void low-level storage, firmly grounded.

The roof is constructed from the cast of the foundations – the sheets of shuttering joined to create beams. It forms a deliberate heavy block above you rather than hiding from the site’s constraints. The heaviness is the weight of learning and respect for the canon – but in looking up, the books themselves create colour and warmth, then up again the tunnelled light is uplifting.

Throughout, the aesthetic has come from the making, with no effort to hide the simplicity of the materials: concrete, ply. There are day joints in the concrete showing the different pours, shuttering marks from the form work, simple valve taps and roll marks in the steels.

In between, the garden and its more urban surrounds are welcome context and the structure, deliberately simple, creating a warm and friendly feel for a quintessentially family addition.


  • Begun: Jun 2017
  • Completed: Oct 2017
  • Floor area: 17m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £70,000
  • Tender date: Mar 2017
  • Procurement: JCT MWD 2016
  • Address: 2 Eastlake Road , London, SE5 9QL, United Kingdom

Professional Team