My recent posts at World-Architects


Friday, February 05, 2010

Half Dose #74: Park Avenue South

The following text and images are courtesy studio octopi for their extension to the Victorian end of a terrace house located in North London, UK. The project is shortlisted for a 2010 AJ Small Project Award.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]

The original builder was also the house’s first resident, and made the most of his triangular plot by allowing the side of the building to fan out to meet the line of the adjacent public footpath. On the ground floor this resulted in an additional fillet of space splitting the living and dining rooms. It was the divisional nature of this space (used as a utility room) that the client asked studio octopi to resolve. By relocating the utility room, the plan was reordered and paved the way for an extension that linked the living spaces.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]

The design was developed through a series of folded paper sketch models exploring the nature of the triangular plot, the geometry and aspect. The lines of the roof ridges were drawn out from two points on the rear wall of the house, whilst the elevations extend the lines of the living room and the external rear wall of the kitchen.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]

The structure is clad entirely in black zinc, with standing seams tracing a path across the roof, emphasising its complex topography and echoing the folds created in the paper concept models.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]

From a distance, the structure reads as a strong geometric form that has grown out from the back of the house, but at closer quarters, its edges appear to soften and the malleability of the zinc and the very slight billows in its surface come into focus. The impression formed is of a tailored garment turned inside out to reveal a complex structure of pleated seams.

[drawing by studio octopi | click image for expanded view with key]

[drawing by studio octopi | click image for expanded view with key and more sections]

Internally, the smooth planes and sharp facets of the ceiling recall an origami paper lantern, neatly folded and then popped up into three dimensions to form a bright lining to the dark fabric over-garment. Seemingly in constant motion, the planes shift and tilt, alternating with triangular roof lights that frame views of the sky, trees and distant chimney-tops.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]

A cantilevered island unit clad in seamless black granite delineates the kitchen from the living space. Bridging the step down to the kitchen it creates on one side a working surface at waist height, and a seating area on the other. This monumental feature is echoed in the granite terraces that lead out into the garden. These are the first elements of the planned landscaping, with areas of paving and planting that will reflect the form of the structure’s openings like patches of light cast by the paper lantern.

[photo by Lyndon Douglas Photography]


  1. Interesting project. It brings more prospect to this building which already has a great refuge. More about prospect and refuge check
    experiencing architecture

  2. Love it. Great inside with light apertures above, very successful interface with garden. Also love the door opening like that. But the cladding in photo 3 looked a little tacky. Thanks for this post.
    Robert Webber
    The Hegarty Webber Partnership

  3. There is an article in an old "World of Interiors" featuring a small country house that uses an unadorned container on the grounds to house the library. My town would never approve.

  4. Ebenezer - Your town wouldn't approve of a backyard addition like this either? It's one thing to have restrictions arising from form-based codes that pertain to the building front, but another to do the same for backyards or alleys.


Comments are moderated for spam.