Black Stone House

6a architects, London, 2017

 

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The concrete exterior 

Johan Dehlin     Download Original

  • The concrete exterior    
  • On the top floor, a terrace takes advantage of the building’s slight projection, offering a view down along the line of the terrace    
  • Internally the majority of the structural concrete is left exposed    
  • Looking out to a concealed courtyard    
  • Kitchen space    
  • The concrete is a mix of cast in-situ and precast on site    
  • The apartments are united by bespoke adaptations of off-the-shelf materials    
  • Light is drawn in from the glass roof of the kitchen    
  • Some sections of blockwork are covered in white render    
  • The design works with the irregularity of the site    
  • Floor plans    
  • Section AA    
  • Section BB    
  • Flat roof loggia detail    

Behind its concrete exterior, this north London residential project reveals what the practice calls ‘an unfolding of spaces’.

When commissioning the design for this small block of apartments, artist Jess Blackstone brought two key things to the briefing: one was a general love of concrete and a desire that the new building celebrate this; the other a selection of photographs detailing a variety of inspirations, her own work involving the stacking of everyday objects and, she assures, ‘a few pictures of actual architectural references’. 

The hard edge of the block sits slightly removed from the gable walls either side. The façade is at the level of the softer boundary of the adjacent terrace’s front gardens. Along the eastern side, the small gap forms the communal, top-lit entrance space, which immediately defies the exterior and manages to feel remarkably like a ‘found’ or restored space with its rendered arched ceiling and framing of the adjacent wall.

The ground floor sits a metre below the ground and benefits primarily from top-light drawn in by two ‘pockets’, the glass-roofed kitchen and the small front patio space, on to which the front bedroom looks. 

The first floor, as a result of the lower first level, has a corner window with a close relationship to the street, contrasted by a smaller window in the kitchen, framing a section of drainpipe on a brick wall. A small terrace to the rear looks down to the kitchen of the apartment below and upwards to nothing but brick wall and sky.

On the top floor, a terrace takes advantage of the building’s slight projection, offering a view down along the line of the terrace – bay window after bay window – while to the rear a small window near the entrance gives a view out across rooftops. Here a smaller third floor houses bedroom and bathroom spaces, but also allows the living area to become a vast, double-height space, with a concrete datum playing the part of a picture rail cutting across the white rendered walls.

The apartments are united by bespoke adaptations of off-the-shelf materials. Internally the majority of the structural concrete is left exposed, with certain sections of blockwork covered in white render. Chunky pillars provide a fulcrum to the two upper apartments. Doors and fittings are made from stained Douglas fir, copper pipe is twisted into towel rails, and metal cable trunking and light switch boxes have been made into a feature rather than buried in the walls. Many openings in the apartments take the form of small double doors, which can be opened out to again emphasise these lines of sight across the floor plate.

Data

  • Begun: Nov 2014
  • Completed: Feb 2017
  • Floor area: 359m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • CO2 Emissions: 40kg/m2/year
  • Address: Highbury, London, N5 1AG, United Kingdom

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