London, UK, 1996—2005
A new 800 m2 house on an enclosed back-land site in Notting Hill, London, for a family of two academics and their two children. The site is intrinsically linked to the surroundings by daylight, sunlight and view criteria which change throughout the seasons; with the support of engineers Arup, a detailed environmental analysis for each individual voxel on the site was carried out. This analysis produced a database of solar and daylight conditions throughout the year, taking into account weather patterns specific to London.
The client’s preferences and lifestyle were superimposed onto this environmental data and this led to the emergence of a project that was tuned to both the three dimensional environmental conditions, and the brief. The section became inverted, placing the bedrooms on the ground floor and the living spaces on the first floor, essentially a double height ‘piano nobile’. The inward looking nature of the site in conjunction with the inverted section led to the development of a completely glazed 'sky facade' roof to the house. This 'sky facade', the only visible facade, was seen as an environmental moderator, filtering sunlight and daylight through layers of transparency and opacity.
Three different densities of fritting were allocated to the roof panels according to criteria from the rooms below. Solar optimised terraces and gardens created internal courtyard volumes into which the surrounding spaces face.
“What proves to be one of the finest new city homes to be found anywhere in the world. Botsford’s house of light is a thing of architectural sorcery made possible not by sleight of hands or smoke and mirrors, but by patiently applied science”
Jonathan Glancey, “Bright Fantastic”, The Guardian, 7 November 2005
“These spaces are a luminarium, designed to defeat the powers of darkness; to create habitation where all the evidence might suggest there shouldn’t be any. It illustrates what is sometimes the real wonder of architecture: people’s sheer appetite for the hazard and difference of wanting to exist in conditions whose effects on the psyche cannot be known in advance.”
Jay Merrick, “Full Metal Jacket“, The Independent, 24 November 2005