(construction completed Dec. 2002)
This apartment is on the first floor of a paired house in a Victorian terrace built in the 1890’s overlooking a park. It has four rooms and a little hall room. Two rooms look out to a magnificent view of the park and two rooms face into the front street with mature plane trees. All rooms are three meters high making the small rooms tall and the large rooms generous and spacious. The existing house is a typical well mannered late 19th Century building with sash windows, ceiling cornices, skirting boards with moldings, four-panel doors with architraves, and highly ornate cast iron fire places, all well built and in their original generous proportions.
We thought one should repair and fully reveal the proportional, tectonic and contextual dignity of the original ‘good rooms’, removing insensitive additions. We see this matrix of rooms as an architectural infrastructure, an emptiness, a raw shell.
New floors have been installed with solid American oil finished white oak in three rooms and the hall. In the little room to the street and in the hall mild steel plates were inlaid into the oak floor in form of large stepping-stones. In the large room to the street we laid a Korean ‘hanji’ paper floor made with pulp of the mulberry bush soaked in a natural resin.
One must tread carefully not to obscure the qualities of the raw shell. We are taking care that the programme of inhabitation does not dominate architectural space. We would like to get around the idea of single purpose rooms, kitchen, dining room, bathroom, bedroom, living room etc. Rather, we have chosen to take more of a camping approach to inhabiting the raw shell rather than a fitting-out approach. We think each room should be a room for living (and working), even the smallest room in the house.