Rounded shingles create wooden scales across the walls of this small house in Hackney that architect Laura Dewe Mathews has built for herself (+ slideshow).
Nicknamed the Gingerbread House by neighbours, the two-storey house sits behind the reconstructed wall of a former Victorian box factory and its tall windows overlap the mismatched brickwork.
"I and the planners were keen to retain something of the original building envelope," Laura Dewe Mathews told Dezeen. "The pale grey/blue bricks were part of the workshop when I bought it and the clean London stock bricks were infills."
The architect drew inspiration from decorative vernacular architecture in Russia to design the cedar-shingle facade, then added windows framed by thick galvanised steel surrounds.
"I was keen that the cladding somehow softened the sharp silhouette of the overall, stylised building form and thought the round 'fancy butts' might achieve this," she said. "Contemporary architecture can often be perceived to be severe and alienating and I wanted to avoid that. I hope the balance of the sharp galvanised steel window reveals and cills versus the round singles manages to be more friendly."
To avoid overlooking neighbouring houses, all windows had to be placed on the north-facing street elevation, so Dewe Mathews also added a large skylight to bring in natural light from above.
A double-height kitchen and dining room sits below this skylight on one side of the house and opens out to a small patio. The adjoining two-storey structure contains a living room on the ground floor, plus a bedroom, bathroom and small study upstairs.
Walls and ceilings are lined with timber panels, while a resin floor runs throughout the house.
The building was the winner of the AJ Small Projects Awards 2013. Also nominated was a wooden folly that cantilevers across a garden lake and a reed-covered tower that functions as a camera obscura.
Photography is by Chloe Dewe Mathews.
Above: the original site
Here's a project description from Laura Dewe Mathews:
Box House / "Gingerbread House"
This is the first new build project by Laura Dewe Mathews. The motivation for the project was to create a domestic set of spaces with generous proportions and lots of natural light while working with a limited budget.
Above: ground floor plan - click above for larger image
The site was originally part of the garden of an early Victorian end of terrace house in Hackney. It was first built on in the 1880s, to provide Mr Alfred Chinn (the then resident of the end of terrace house) with space for his box factory, making wooden boxes for perfume and jewellery.
Above: first floor plan - click above for larger image
In discovering the history of the site, Laura Dewe Mathews was drawn to assemble yet another box inside the original envelope of the factory.
Above: cross section through kitchen and dining room
The one bed, new-build house was recently completed using a cross-laminated timber super structure, placed inside the existing perimeter brickwork walls and rising up out of them. The timber structure has been left exposed internally. Externally the palette of materials is limited to the original and infill brickwork, round "fancy-butt" western red cedar shingles and galvanised steel flashings, window frames and window reveals. The soft shape of the shingles contrasting with the crisp edges of the galvanized steel.
Above: cross section through living room and bedroom
The form of the proposal was a response to tricky site constraints, common for urban developments in already built up areas. The neighbours’ rights to sunlight, daylight and privacy needed to be respected. Consequently the only elevation that could have any windows was the north facing, pavement fronted elevation. The proposal counters this with large south facing roof-lights; added to this, light is brought into the main living spaces via a new private yard.
Above: front elevation
At 80msq the result is a small yet generously proportioned house. At ground floor level it retains the openness of the original workshop while feeling a sense of separation from the street immediately adjacent.
Above: side elevations
Structural engineer: Tall Engineers
Main contractor: J & C Meadows, now incorporated within IMS Building Solutions
Above: rear elevation
KLH – cross laminated timber super structure
Stratum – resin flooring
Vincent timber – cedar shingle supplier
The Rooflight Company – roof light supplier
Roy Middleton – bespoke joinery including kitchen
MPM engineering – stainless steel to kitchen