A Victorian terraced house in south London has been transformed into a home and a
gallery to allow a couple to live side by side with their eclectic and evolving collection
of artworks and artefacts from around the world.
The project follows in the tradition of the gallery house, with some very grand predecessors
such as Kettle's Yard in Cambridge, Sir John Soane's museum in London and Charles Moore's
house in Austin, Texas, buildings that evolved as works of art as much as they were homes
Rather than adding a contemporary surface that would mask the history of the building, the
practice opted to make a set of new insertions to engage with the existing fabric of the house
and allow its story to be revealed.
A system of display units to house the collection was conceived as a ribbon of illuminated
displays and closed storage cabinets winding a path through the house. The units are
deliberately neutral in design, allowing unexpected juxtapositions to occur between items
in the collection, which remains in a constant state of "ux due to the continual additions and
rearrangements made by the clients.
As it ascends through the property the ribbon interacts with the fabric of the building, forming new openings and sight lines
between rooms. In certain areas adjacent to it the layers of plaster have been stripped back to reveal the structural skeleton of
the house. The ceiling of the master bedroom, for example, has been removed, creating a double height space punctuated by
exposed roof beams which, like all of the revealed structural details, have been wire-brushed but otherwise left untreated and in
their raw original state.
Alongside the display units, further new additions include a section of structural glass floor on the first floor landing with adjoining
oak stair treads and banisters that follow the rhthym of the staircase that remains from the original building. In its refurbished state,
the building exudes multiple layers of meanings and associations.
Dissecting the anatomy of the house effectively puts it on display, highlighting the narrative of its construction and connecting the
lives of the inhabitants both past and present. It is on the one hand a contemporary reconfiguration of the building to meet the
needs of a unique couple, and on the other a celebration of the reappropriation and evolution of a whole generation of buildings.
Contained in this idea of evolution is the acceptance that the changes that have been made to the property are only a fleeting
moment in its history and that they too will be adapted and eventually overcome, absorbed back into the fabric of the building like
footprints in a landscape.