Parachute cables form netted balustrades
at Fraher Architects' London studio


Webs of red parachute cables take the place of traditional balustrades between the two levels of this office that architects Joe Fraher and Lizzie Webster have built as an extension of their London home (+ slideshow).

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

Named The Green Studio, Fraher Architect's new two-storey workplace was designed to allow its two directors greater flexibility in balancing a growing workload with raising a young family, and it is located on a compact site in the garden of their two-storey house.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The criss-crossing cables extend from the angular double-height ceiling of a ground-floor workplace to the floor's edge of a small mezzanine office, creating two colourful nets that the architects say are strong enough to hold a person's weight.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

We wanted to keep visual permeability and wanted something that didn't feel like a balustrade," Webster told Dezeen. "You can sit in it to read, and if you fell onto it, it would catch you."

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The architects ensured that gaps between cables are never wider than ten centimetres to minimise the risk that someone might slip through them by accident.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

"The form of the cord stretches and bridges to visually emphasise the faceted angles of the studio walls," added Webster.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

A wooden staircase with integrated drawers and cupboards connects the two storeys and was custom-made by the architects' joinery company Fraher + Co.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

Bespoke desks and shelves were built on both floors, creating a pair of desks upstairs for the two directors and four more workspaces on the ground floor. There are also pegboards on the walls to accommodate ad-hoc fixings.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

High-performance glazing and thick insulation were added so that the office needs no heating, plus natural ventilation helps to keep the building cool in summer.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The exterior of the extension is clad with stainless steel mesh, while plants and wildflowers grow across the roof.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

Photography is by Jack Hobhouse.

Read on for more information from Fraher Architects:

The Green Studio

Sited opposite the Butterfly House, The Studio is a garden based creative home work space for our architectural practice. Situated in the south east of London, the building was driven by the directors need to balance a young family with an increasing workload.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The studio's shape and orientation has resulted from a detailed sunlight analysis minimising its impact on the surrounding buildings and ensuring high levels of daylight to the garden and work spaces.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The split levels and grounded form helps to conceal its mass and facilitates the flowing groundscape transition between the garden and studio. Clad in a stainless steel mesh, the terraced planter beds and wild flower green roofs will combine to green the facade replacing the lost habitat.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

Carefully orientated high performance glazing combined with super insulation and a robust natural ventilation strategy means the building requires no heating or cooling. Hot water for the kitchen and shower are provided by a large solar array and thermal store.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

The project was completed in October 2013 and delivered to a tight budget and deadline.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects

All the joinery was designed, fabricated and installed by the practice's sister company Fraher + Co.

The Green Studio by Fraher Architects
Site plan - click for larger image
The Green Studio by Fraher Architects
Cross section - click for larger image
The Green Studio by Fraher Architects
Entrance section - click for larger image
The Green Studio by Fraher Architects
Context section - click for larger image
  • Seb H

    The cables look like a last-minute solution to me. They then went into ‘make-it-a-faeture mode’ and bought the latest Herman Miller chairs.

  • concerned planning

    Those gaps are definitely more than 10cm in some places. Besides, where is the stair balustrade? The handrail? And does the tension in the cables really prevent a fall?

    I also feel horrible for the adjacent neighbour’s bay window – they get to look out onto a brick wall.

    Doesn’t seem like building control has had a thorough look. Nor does it seem planning put much thought into the neighbours or street scape.

    • HMC

      “definitely more than 10cm” you say. I wish I could have such conviction from just looking at a photo. My hunch would be that they probably designed it so no gap was >10cm.

      • london

        I think as a known design blog, it is important to address not only “interesting” design, but design that takes into account regulations that we just can’t ignore – how architecture and design responds and addresses these challenges, not just eliminating elements for sake of design.

        It is like in Grand Designs, lots of interesting projects on the show, but so many projects actually don’t comply to regulations. Perhaps it is more of London’s issue with regulations and planning not having continuity and negligence of building control or private surveyors – but as an architect, it is frustrating to see projects that just don’t comply. It’s nice seeing dynamic design, but even more so if it really works.

    • Building Regs

      It’s difficult to tell from the photo but you’ve got to assume the eyelets would be spaced at 100mm c/c so the mezzanine would presumably comply with UK building regs. A lot of stuff on Dezeen wouldn’t!

      However I agree, why bother when there’s no protection at all to the stairs? Where’s the ‘large solar array’?

    • LM

      “Definitely more than 10 cm”? Have you heard of wide lenses?

  • Romain_M

    So bizarre. Everything else in each picture seems more interesting than the “balustrade” (for instance, I like the desks, the mezzanine and how light works its way into the space). The scarlet web is just visual clutter.

  • Dr. Lucien Sanchez

    I can’t see why it would really need protection on the stairs, looks pretty safe with the relatively wide treads. Maybe not what BR would recommend as a standard, but its hardly a standard space.

    Not sure how comfortable I would be sitting on the cables to read though… And less so sitting under someone who was on it!

  • Dr. Lucien Sanchez MD

    Looks wonderfully light and airy on the inside, clever use of natural light and well composed joinery and materials.

    Great that planners are brave and allow such innovative design in a residential area!

  • Loz

    Zero chance of passing building regs regardless of 100mm sphere rule, falling onto something is not a valid solution! But then there’s no handrail on the stairs, no different colour stair nosing, etc. Having said that, it looks awesome! Just don’t try doing it for a client.