Landscape, History and Time
The Layered Gallery replaces the three storey closet wing of an 18th Century Grade II Georgian town house in Bloomsbury, London, to provide storage and display of art, a toilet, an outdoor kitchen and areas to sit in the sun and look onto the garden.
Working with our Landscape architect, Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, we approached the design as a garden building that works with the historical techniques of pattern and layering that were originally devised due to the height of Georgian houses and how small their gardens were- they were gardens to look at from above.
Structure, Geometry and Pattern
The entire tree like façade of the gallery is supported by a weathering steel frame made from flat stiffened plates branching out over the three‐storey structure and supported off just two 120 x 12mm steel posts with a stiffening rib on the rear face. Unusually however, and in a reversal of the usual structural hierarchy, the façade is also the main structural frame of the gallery and supports all the floors and roof, as well as providing stability.
From a layer of plants that we hope will eventually cover the building, to the structure and layer of glazing and framing, to blinds, sliding racks to store art, a secret toilet, and finally the original brick garden wall, the layers deal not only with history and materials, but also the relationship to nature and light, display and privacy.
Materiality and Craft
We like to work with one material and make it work really hard on every project we do. Here weathering steel was chosen due to its structural and self-maintaining ability, and was used not only for all structural and external elements, but also for most of the internal furniture and fittings.
Smallness, Transformation and Brief
We overlapped opposing programmes of a toilet with storage for art, and sunbathing with viewing art. We made the room as narrow as the swing of the window, made column free space to create an atmosphere of lightness, and borrowed a sense of space from the courtyard.
Construction finished just over a year ago but the careful integration into the existing and the growth of the garden’s vegetation already make it difficult to tell how long the extension has been there.