- Original design
- Hogarth Architects, 2011
A new sustainable home on a former garden in Kensington designed around the needs of the residents; a family with two teenage children and a grandchild from an older brother. The brief was developed through a series of family discussions and is intended to be the family home up to, and possibly beyond, university years. There is, within the structured shell, scope for future reinterpretation.
Sandwiched between a row of 4-storey Kensington townhouses and the West London railway line, the site was once part of a generous back garden. It was bought with existing planning permission for a small (600 sq ft) Victorian mews house. Hogarth Architects revised and negotiated a 400 per cent increase in this consent.
Despite not being in a conservation area, the council asked for materials and proportions to be "in keeping" with its Victorian neighbours. We could have fought this, but the time constraints of the build and the timing made this impractical. Instead our response was to use almost frameless triple-glazed windows in similar proportions to the neighbouring property, with applied brick cladding in London stock colour, but laid stackbonded to assert it as a contemporary home.
The design of the basement had to take into account a mature red chestnut in an adjoining garden and the council's 'special planning document' for subterranean construction. The railway line follows the course of Counters Creek, a hidden river, which became very evident during the build.
From the quaint, cobbled mews it was intended to be as visually low impact as possible. In time it is planned that as planting matures the building will "disappear" into the wilderness from which it was built. The concept of the 'hole in the wall' came from the Beatles' movie Help!, in which they say fame has not changed them and they live in the same old terraced houses, but when you go through their front doors you find four properties have been knocked together into an amazing warehouse space.
PV array on garage roof and railway facade currently on course to make the electric-only house self-funding for power
Air source heat pumps for underfloor heating and hot water, augmented by solar panels on roof
Rain and bath/shower water recycled
Heat recovery ventilation
Triple glazed windows and very high levels of insulation
Inside Hidden House it is both minimalist and quite the opposite; pared-back simple design meets ostentatious colour-changing lighting inspired by the Blackpool illuminations. Throughout the house visitors are presented with a series of unexpected vistas and sensations, intended to challenge and surprise.
Stairs to the right of the entrance lead down to the basement with a large entertaining space comprising an LED dance floor complete with DJ booth and a large sunken movie area. A glazed courtyard pond separates the master bedroom suite from the entertainment area. There is also a wellness suite with a colour-changing sauna and spa bath. Despite being deep underground, the basement manages to remain light and airy. Light reflective paint is used on wall and ceiling surfaces.
A sleek and minimal kitchen-dining room at ground floor level features a 16ft gold Chesterfield sofa and a kitchen island that slides to reveal a stainless steel counter with integrated hob and breakfast bar. The large sliding glass doors open onto the garden which features vividly painted walls (inspired by Luis Barragan) and a cantilevered concrete table over the timber deck.
On the first floor there are the children's bedrooms with a shared wetroom. Gil's room is based upon Manchester nightclub the Hacienda, whereas Tilly's colour-changing room is inspired by a cornerless room in a James Turrell exhibition. The patterning on the glass balustrade was taken from a Joy Division album cover.
By installing full width windows on the railway facade the drama of the passing trains has been celebrated and a strong visual relationship has been created with the trackside planting. The guest bedroom/study on the second floor has been named the 'Train Room' as this where the effects of the adjacent rails are keenly felt and the striped carpet here was chosen to echo the lines of the track.