When designing the new house on an existing garage site in North London, their clients and the studio began from a visit to Curzon Bloomsbury cinema that they had just completed at the time. The wish was to design and build a house with similar ephemeral and tactile qualities of the subterranean spaces.
They met a few times on the very small plot of land conversing on the possibilities of building a two or three story house. There is a busy railway near the site, some major services running below, and the planning department seemed to be pressing for the volume of this new house to be similar, if not the same as the existing small garage roofscape.
Despite this, or perhaps because of it, the architects were excited when they came across a Turner painting depicting the subtle lights that seem to enlarge the boundaries of the Church space that he was painting. The wall surfaces are blurred and the light from the window seems to reach gently to the open space that is near to the observer. They wanted to create this sense of space where the description of the spaces would be regularly changing due to the gentle subtle light and the volume itself becoming merged with the light and the shadow.
The studio effectively wanted every surface to have similar qualities so that the internal volumes would become tectonic but merged, perhaps elevated.
The house, in the end, is a two storey concrete structure with the ground floor precisely following the former garage roof profile. The below ground level contains the living and dining spaces as well as a small open courtyard. Externally the house is clad in weathered chestnut. This is a house that speaks quietly with a palette of few materials. There is almost no paint on the internal surfaces.
Shinohara, also described the typology of a house containing a counter position to the city. “A house is free from the constraints of the city. It is something that stands ‘against’ the city in gaining its freedom”.
Text via http://www.t-sa.co.uk/