London studio de Rijke Marsh Morgan (dRMM) has completed a wedge-shaped studio for an artist in Deptford, south-east London, with a sky-facing window designed to draw in north light "like a big hungry eye".
Tucked away behind Deptford High Street, Comet Street Studio sits on the former site of a scaffolders' yard and was designed by dRMM as a secluded hideaway where the client can work on oil paintings without interruptions.
"His brief was a simple room to paint in, free of distractions, that only lets light enter from the north," said dRMM, explaining how north-facing windows provide long hours of daylight without glare or shadows.
The design team responded by creating an angular studio with a single ETFE plastic window, measuring four by five metres and angled upward towards the sky.
"Our proposal was a simple, north-lit single volume, the form and materiality of which aimed to improve the character of the street without compromising its continuity," they said.
The asymmetric volume of the building takes its cues from the gabled houses and shop buildings surrounding the site.
The exterior walls are uniformly clad in zinc panels with raised seams, which create a series of diagonal stripes.
The structure is built from cross-laminated timber. Double doors provide a generous entrance, allowing enough space to bring large canvasses and equipment in and out.
"Throughout a long design development period we worked to the exacting specifications of the client, with whom we collaborated on every detail, from the pigment-less epoxy screed resin floor to the special eyewash station that takes the place of a sink," said dRMM.
A decked platform defines a small reception area and toilet. Solar panels on the roof provide heating for water and a coal-burning stove offers additional warmth during cold winter months.
Here's a project description from dRMM:
Comet Street Studio, London
The studio in Deptford is simplicity itself; a room for a painter in that only allows light to enter from the north. The result is both intriguing and evocative: mysterious from the outside and quietly beautiful from the inside.
dRMM were commissioned by an artist to build a studio on a backstreet in Deptford, a site that was then being used as a scaffolders' yard. His brief was a simple room to paint in, free of distractions, that only lets light enter from the north - indirect light giving cool continuity of light when painting in oils.
The site was located within a small mixed-residential and commercial street behind Deptford High Street. It is is an end-of-terrace plot within a service yard off Comet Street, which had been previously leased out for storage. Rubbish was habitually dumped around the site before the studio was built; it was merely a concrete slab, void of any trees or features.
Our proposal was a simple, north-lit single volume, the form and materiality of which aimed to improve the character of the street without compromising its continuity. The studio does not mimic the adjacent houses, but is designed to be of similar scale and to complement the existing buildings.
The client required indirect light and controllable natural ventilation with complete obliteration of shadows or glare. Our response was a wedge-shaped box built in cross-laminated timber with light entering through a huge openable ETFE skylight. This single window, at 4x5metres the largest of its kind in the UK, was positioned to act like a big hungry eye, sucking in light from the northern sky. The building is clad in zinc, its seams wrapping around each corner. The net effect of only one door and one enigmatic skylight is both compelling and forbidding from the outside.
A small yard has been placed at the rear of the building to the south to enable the off-street loading to take place with minimal disturbance. The yard has been placed to the south to ensure that sunshine can diffuse through a translucent roller shutter to the service area behind the studio.
The design of the building seeks to perform the function of a studio as sustainably as possible. Solar collectors on the roof provide an environmentally-friendly source of hot water, and in winter a clean-coal burning stove supplements this. The studio is a car-free development and includes provision for bicycle storage.
Throughout a long design development period we worked to the exacting specifications of the client, with whom we collaborated on every detail, from the pigment-less epoxy screed resin floor to the special eyewash station that takes the place of a sink. We learned that achieving true simplicity is not necessarily quick or easy, but it is entirely satisfying.