Sun Rain Rooms

Tonkin Liu, London, 2017

 

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The plywood structure was built by students from three architecture schools and is topped with a sedum roof 

Edmund Sumner     Download Original

  • The plywood structure was built by students from three architecture schools and is topped with a sedum roof    
  • The project is an extension to Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu’s Grade II-listed Georgian home and office    
  • The perimeter walls of the old yard support a new coffered plywood roof, curved in plan and section to allow maximum light into a reimagined garden    
  • A pipe on the roof’s edge brings rainwater down from the top of the townhouse into a harvesting tank, which, when discharged, transforms the patio into a reflecting pool    
  • Under the roof a garden room offers a living space for the home and a meeting space for the studio    
  • The sand-blasted finish to the glass conceals the fixings and catches the light    
  • The sweeping roof spans 10 metres    
  • A spiral staircase leads down to a basement extension    
  • Interior view    
  • Interior view    
  • Location plan    
  • Floor plans    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB rear elevation    
  • Concept diagram    
  • Detail section    

Organic forms prevail at this extension to the Anna Liu and Mike Tonkin’s home, which provides both a studio and extra living space.

The project is an extension to Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu’s Grade II-listed Georgian home and office. Described as ‘a good place to be on a bad day’, it conjures explorations of the inside/outside dichotomy – if it’s raining, you’d usually stay inside, but here you can enjoy it as a sort of liminal space between the two, with the architecture enabling and transforming some sort of connection to nature.

The scheme’s focal point is a shallow pool that, at the flick of a switch, will fill with collected rain water through gaps in the paving, enhanced either by reflections in the sunshine or, if it is dark, through the use of lasers that illuminate raindrops as they fall, sliding their way down a chain that hangs from the mouth of the drainpipe to reduce noise.

This pool occupies the centre of the former thin back-garden space, enveloped by a sweeping, ostensibly ‘floating’ walkway, which is partially enclosed where it meets the house and open towards the back of the garden. Two new axes are created: one running from the dining room window at the front of the house, through the kitchen and down a new glass staircase that steps straight down into the pool; the other more discreet and to the side, where the house meets the new glazed corridor. Just beyond the door that allows this space to be sealed off sits a small table intended to be used for both meetings and garden gatherings. 

The sweeping roof , curving around the garden but also undulating with a slight dip in the middle, spans 10m, and is formed from layers of glued and pinned 6mm plywood, each one CNC-cut. These enable the high definition of the stepped coffers, designed to mirror the ripples of droplets on the pool.

Adjacent to the sandblasted glass staircase stands a new, thin spiral staircase which leads down to a basement extension that has added a bedroom and two bathrooms. This space, designed so it can be an independent dwelling, now benefits from a new small lightwell, out on to which the glazed wall of the new bedroom looks, with the bed sitting against a dramatic wooden wall that mirrors the curve of the extension’s roofline above.

Data

  • Begun: May 2016
  • Completed: Apr 2017
  • Floor area: 80m2
  • Sectors: Residential, Office
  • Total cost: £245,000
  • Procurement: Construction management
  • Address: 5 Wilmington Square, London, WC1X 0ES, United Kingdom

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