The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

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The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

British architects Liddicoat & Goldhill constructed their own north London home using black engineering bricks and slabs of white marble.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Named the Shadow House, the two-storey building is located on the compact site of a former parking garage.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Walls inside the house are of the same dark brickwork as the exterior and contrast with a stark white concrete floor.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Larch beams supporting the ceilings of both floors remain exposed inside every room and bare light bulbs hang from them.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Household appliances including the television and washing machine are concealed inside specially designed cupboards in the ground floor living rooms.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

A bedroom and library occupy the first floor, as does a bathroom with a glazed ceiling.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Above: photograph is by Tom Gildon

This house was nominated for the 2011 Manser Medal, which was won by another north London house – see our earlier story about the winner here.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Photography is by Keith Collie, apart from where otherwise stated.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Above: photograph is by Tom Gildon

The following text was written by Liddicoat & Goldhill:


About The Shadow House

Because our budget was so tight, we planned to carry out as much work as possible ourselves and limited our palette to primary materials. We found these limits liberating rather than restricting: there is great poetry in practical things, so we reveled in finding simple means of assembling the house. It is built inside and out in slim-format Dutch engineering brick, a robust material with a delicate black glaze. Interior structure and window reveals are in raw larch, while polished concrete floors flow between each of the rooms.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

One small luxury we allowed was to buy two slabs of bookmatched Statuarietto marble, which we used throughout house as a reflective contrast to the brick walls. The whole design revolves around this play of light & dark; carefully controlled moments of intensity and quiet shadow. We wanted to create interior spaces with maximum emotional effect. The bright first floor bathroom has a huge sheer glass ceiling (which needed to be craned into place) that contrasts with the intense atmosphere of the living spaces.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Above: photograph is by Tom Gildon

We created the sensation of being outside; showering in full sunshine or bathing under the stars. We playfully carved space into the walls for everyday clutter; the TV and its cables are concealed behind a black glass wall, the loo roll has its own marble niche, the washing machine is in a secret cupboard behind the loo, discreet storage fills every spare corner while the kitchen extract is buried into the brickwork. In order to give a sense of space to what could feel like very constrained rooms, it was important for us to modulate the section and vary the ceiling heights. By changing the floor level and building roofs at different heights we created a range from 3m in the living room to 2.1m in the entrance area.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Above: photograph is by Tom Gildon

This allowed us to give each space its own sound quality and sense of cosiness or airiness. Just building a house doesn’t make a home: we also designed our fittings and furnishings; the minimalist Zero larch bedframe; kitchen cabinetry in elm, stainless steel, marble and spray lacquered matt doors; The Shadow Lamp, a granite and laser-cut timber table light; soft furnishings using amazing African fabrics, Nyaradza bedspread and Akwasidee cushions.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

How We Made The Project Happen

The Shadow House is our own home, but is also an experiment in making a generic small city house. While working for other practices, we designed luxurious houses for private clients and worked on complex urban social housing developments; we were keen to extend this experience into building more modest single houses. Finding a site was an exhausting process. We cycled around London, exploring the backstreets and peering over fences, looking for a forgotten scrap of land. We knew we could only afford a site that was too challenging for developers or ‘Grand Designs’ hopefuls.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

We eventually discovered a derelict parking garage - home to rats, foxes and local junkies - just behind the Kings Cross goods yards in NW1. At only 390sqft, it seemed almost impossibly small. Our task was made even harder by its location in the fiercely-protected Camden Square Conservation Area, and by the previous owner’s failed attempts to win Planning Permission. We knew the project could only become a reality through our skills of designing in historic areas, and negotiating with neighbours and local Planners. Our time and energy were our greatest resources, so we re-drew the design constantly to eliminate costs, and carried out much of the work with our own bare hands.

The Shadow House by Liddicoat & Goldhill

Architect and Main Contractor: Liddicoat & Goldhill LLP
Site: 38a St. Paul’s Crescent, London, NW1 9TN
Client, Architect and Main Contractor: David Liddicoat & Sophie Goldhill
Structural Engineers: Peter Kelsey Associates
Completion date: Winter 2011
Gross internal floor area: 77m2
Total construction cost: £210,000

  • alexandra

    great space!

  • http://uptodayarch.blogspot.com up_today_arch

    nice choice of materials, ecpecialy dark bricks inside the house!

  • pwnado_season

    Bravo! What i love even more than the architecture is the dedication, perseverance and hard work implied in the architects' own description to the idea of designing and building their own house.

  • xtiaan

    what are "engineering bricks"?, theyre very nice I was just wondering how they were different to normal ones.
    Cant help but feel sorry for the "foxes and local junkies" that lost their homes tho..

  • http://gavinckirby.me/ Gavin.C.Kirby

    I can only but echo a previous post, the description provided by the architect is a thoroughly fascinating (and inspiring) narrative into the restrictions, challenges & perseverance required by those of more limited resource's, and that such restrictions do not in anyway negate the opportunity in the building of something, that is anything but banal.

    An almost stark utilitarian simplicity, whilst still being extremely sophisticated both visually & texturally. I think this is marvellous.

  • http://www.ferrettidesigns.com Steve

    Very nice design and use of materials but sad to see that there is no attempt to integrate the design with neighboring houses.

  • jorgca

    great job!
    nice details in contrasting materials and lighting (and fixtures!)
    i bet the result is worth the effort. congrats!
    one question: i can't get around photograph no. 8 (the one looking up the glass ceiling)…i guess it's the perspective…is the plane left of the brick column a mirror?
    thnks

    • http://www.liddicoatgoldhill.com David Liddicoat

      That's right, we added mirrors to end-stops like the wall at the top of the stairs, or the end of the kitchen cabinets to try to reduce their visual bulk….
      David

  • alex

    sectional perspective!!!

  • Michael

    quite original, the marble could be kind of an architect trademark :)

    the combination of warm and cold materials works + the industrial feel of fi the electrical wiring is very subtle! nice work.

  • Marcom

    Are the joists treated against fire?

    • http://www.liddicoatgoldhill.com David Liddicoat

      No, they're not treated. However they are oversized so the outside of the timber could char to a certain depth during a fire, while the interior of the joist remains intact… The limewax finish is purely aesthetic!

  • http://www.form-office.net Jamie

    Amazing! Love the use of the black bricks. Nice to see something new.

  • Scott

    Wow this is amazing! I wish i had the resources and know how to build something similar here in the states. The Black Brick and Contrasting Flooring is stunning. Need something a little bigger for my family of 6 though :-) and possibly a softer floor for the little ones. Love It!

  • http://www.zazous.co.uk Zazous

    Absolutely stunning. The black slimline bricks look wonderful and I love the sound of the bathroom – are there any pictures of it? I find it hard to believe that it was constructed on a "modest" budget with features such as glass ceilings that were craned into place but that's beside the point – a really wonderful piece of architecture.

  • xtiaan

    ah thanks for clearing that up, they contrast beautifully with the wood and marble. Lovely place btw, small but perfectly formed