Light House (2005) by Gianni Botsford located in London, UK | The Hardt
Light House (2005) by Gianni Botsford located in London, UK. The project is for the construction of a new 8,600 ft² (800 m²) house on an enclosed back-land site in Notting Hill, London, for a family of two academics and their two children. The clients had previously lived in typical London vertical townhouses of up to five stories and wanted the house to be connected and interactive by being more horizontal. The brief required a very private house for the family to live and work in, a suite of living rooms, a kitchen, two studies, a library, dining room, chapel, five bedrooms and bathrooms, a swimming pool, courtyard gardens, garage, wine cellar, laundry rooms and plant rooms. Finish reading and see the unbelievable interior, on the site.
The empty site was essentially a box 130 ft (40 meters) deep by 50 ft (15 meters) wide 32 ft (10 meters) high on one side and up to 26 ft (8 meters) high on the other sides, consisting of brick party walls. We were not able to apply any pressure to the party walls having to build an entirely independent structure and had a requirement for very large planes of walls extending up to the top of the 32 ft (10 m) high wall. In situ exposed concrete was a natural choice- it acts as an environmental moderator (the house is naturally ventilated), the exposed finishes put workmanship on display, and structurally there was a requirement for large vertical cantilevers and beams. A grillage of deep tapering beams spans from vertical cantilevers 26 ft (8m)-32 ft (10m) high and 105 ft (32 m) long, forming the high-level enclosure to the room below. These ‘rooms’ range in size from 60 ft (18m) x 10 ft (3 m) at the largest to 10 ft (3 m) x 10 ft (3 m) at the smallest.
The complexity of achieving this apparent simplicity was deceptive. 14 separate party wall awards were required and the site is only accessible through an arch 10 ft (3 m) wide and 13 ft (4 m) high. The vertical cantilevers needed to be built within 6 inches (150mm) of the existing walls, and no pressure could be placed on the party walls during construction. Our subcontractor developed a method utilizing specially designed and fabricated steel shuttering at the back of the wall taking the forces through to the front of the shuttering, which was propped back onto the slab. Due to the restricted nature of the site, the project had to be built from the back of the site in stages towards the front of the site, as mobile drainage was the only solution possible for placement of concrete and movement of shuttering.
Careful research on the concrete specification was carried out by the architect, Arup, and the client- whilst concrete was an early decision, there were concerns relating to achieving the finish and color required. Site visits from London to Berlin were undertaken in order to narrow down what was wanted, and possibly more importantly, what was not wanted. We were looking for an ‘as struck finish’ with no making good. Some character was also a requirement, rather than a very flat even color throughout. These are issues that are subjective and therefore difficult to include in a specification. The solution was to research the methods used in the concrete we did like, and write the specification from that point. Trial panels were specified, and the basement walls used to test various chamfer and bolt hole details, as the evenness of the bolt holes both in the finish and setting out were very important.
The house is naturally ventilated, which is controlled by means of thermal mass, shading, and air movement. The roof, although made of 3,230 ft² (300 m²) of glass, has a highly effective solar coating, three different frit densities to the glass, electrically operated blinds, and opening vents, all of which contribute to a high level of control of the internal environment by the occupants. A very restricted palette of materials was used throughout the house, consisting of stainless steel, concrete, glass, and aluminum. Polished concrete screed floors, stainless steel lined swimming pool and bathrooms, exposed concrete structure to the walls and beams, stainless steel kitchen, aluminum framed sliding doors and windows, the perforated corrugated stainless steel used as cladding and external screens and doors.
ⓒ HÉLÈNE BINET
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