Holloway Lightbox

Studio Bark, London, 2017


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Photography studio, screenwriter’s retreat and flexible family space

Situated at the bottom of the clients’ back garden, Holloway Lightbox is a photography studio, a screenwriter’s retreat and a flexible family space. In a nod to the couple’s respective professions (photography and film), a series of handmade coloured tiles represent the digital age, creating a playful ‘pixelated’ façade. This modern, yet sustainable skin presents an emphatic juxtaposition between new and old, incorporating chalky surface tones, helping to complement the rigid Victorian masonry defining the adjacent street-scape.

The form of the roof maximises south-westerly light through a full-width glazed opening, before respectfully sloping back down towards the neighbour's garden. The 15 degree pitch of the roof matches the angle of the sun’s final rays before it nestles down behind the adjacent row of terraces.

Made using waste timber fibres for reinforcement; the tiles are a low carbon alternative to the more commonly used concrete mixes. More than 1200 tiles were made by hand over a three week period and included extensive testing of various forms, thicknesses, mixes, reinforcements and pigments.

The building shell has been fully insulated using 150mm of natural timber fibre insulation and the concrete slab was constructed of a cement mix using 50% GGBS (Ground Granulated Blast Furnace Slag), a by-product from the Steel Industry; both materials helping to dramatically reduce the embodied energy of the building, whilst providing useful thermal mass for the studio. The large sliding door is a factory reconditioned low energy Sunflex SVG99 and the fixed roof light is a low-E double glazed Panaroof clear skylight. In order to improve natural ventilation, a small insulated hatch was built into the structure and sits behind the hung tiles, invisible to the passer-by, but essential after a long day of shooting in the summer.

The construction of the main shell took roughly 4 weeks and was assisted by two teams of architecture students from the University of East London. The clients have since been working on the garden, completing the decking and raised beds more recently.


  • Begun: Sep 2015
  • Completed: Nov 2017
  • Floor area: 15m2
  • Sectors: Arts and culture, Residential
  • Total cost: £30,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Jul 2015
  • Procurement: Design and Build
  • Address: 170 Albert Road, Leyton, London, E10 6PB, United Kingdom

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