Tin House, West London
Building a new house in London is challenging. Space is scarce and resistance to change is deep set. Neighbours and planners, often with conflicting views, need to be won over. A strong design idea can be catalytic in convincing all sides.
This was a contaminated ex-industrial site, in a vibrant yet grubby part of West London. It is set behind Victorian streets and is overlooked by the surrounding properties. Creating a secluded place was a priority. Our response was to develop a low, inward looking courtyard arrangement.
The design is a composition of six pods that make efficient use of an irregular perimeter. The ensemble looks onto a tranquil courtyard with a water pool, allowing for condensation cooling. The sun’s reflections bring the facades to life.
Each pod accommodates a room. These spaces have pyramidal roofs, cut off at the top to allow natural light from above. The roof shape has a low contour and maximizes spatial volume. On hot days the roof-lights can be opened; the stack effect ensures that fresh air is drawn in from above the pool.
The resulting internal top lit spaces are bright and respond to the changing moods of the day.
The living room has a fireplace with a wood-burner. The flue, which has to be higher than adjacent buildings, is a tall brick chimney on a square plan, tapering elegantly.
Inspired by medieval Scottish castles, secondary spaces, such as washrooms, storage, and stairs are concealed within the double walls between the pods. These are set back to create heavy shadow gaps, giving the illusion of six separate huts.
The building is well insulated and airtight. A heat-recovery ventilation system ensures an energy efficient fresh air supply.
The house is entirely clad in a coated standing-seam metal. It has a warm, earthy colour that is in dialogue with the surrounding brick buildings. This modest and utilitarian finish accentuates the monolithic and sculptural quality of the design.
The tranquil setting of six volumes around an open space with a pool and a tall chimney is reminiscent of the piazza of a Mediterranean village with a campanile.