Gallery House
Michael Nicholson

Gallery House

Grove Architects as Architects

To display the client’s extensive art collection, an existing Paddington terrace house was completely reworked to create an elegant, light filled house. Courteous and considerate, it is a house that respects its context, the client’s needs, and the art collection it accommodates. Refined and elegant in its spaces, forms, palette and detailing, it’s a house that embraces quality of space and light, over hero architecture.

 

Strikingly contemporary in expression, a delicate glazed infill to the street, hints to the house beyond. Sandwiched between its restored original façade and its heritage neighbours, the contemporary insertion is respectfully recessed from the heritage street context. A filigree of slender steel fins provides a contemporary interpretation of the contextual wrought ironwork. Painted entirely in white, the existing house and the new insertion are unified with each other, and their context.


In an act of generosity, a large Imants Tillers painting is displayed in the new glass void. Offering a public glimpse into the client’s private art collection, and providing a commentary on the house’s location in a residential area saturated with high-end galleries. It’s a house, with a moment of gallery to the street.


Programmatically the existing house was fragmented, with each floor disconnected from the other, and the old side annexe. Two new voids were inserted to reunite the primary spaces. The first connects the street, entrance and living areas, while the second connects both levels internally. While the upper floor layout has only been touched lightly, the lower floor has been completely reconfigured, with significant planning and level changes, including front and rear extensions.


Each void draws sunlight deep into the house, and provides visual external connections. Cohesive in their crisp white and steel detailing, the inserted volumes, dynamic skylights and openings, appear sculpted, as if carved from a single white mass, giving a sense of calm elegance to the spaces.


Ideal for displaying the client’s extensive art collection, the sculpted white spaces are complemented with soft timbers and stones. Cool in their undertones, the timbers and stones harmonise with the white, to ensure a homely feel to this art-filled contemporary residence.


In conflict with her love of art, the client suffers from diminishing eyesight. So while her art collection required a controlled and specialist lighting design, the client required a highly lit environment, primarily from natural daylight.


Balancing these unique needs made for a brief of contrasts. In response, integrated natural and artificial lighting are combined in complete harmony with the architecture. Filtered daylight is drawn deep into the house through the sculptural skylights and voids, while a sophisticated artificial lighting system provides general and artwork specific lighting. Working closely with specialist consultants ensured the lighting design went beyond the tangible needs of the brief, engaging intimately with the architecture to create a striking and playful design, providing an additional level of sophistication throughout the residence.


Enhancing the elements of space and light, movement and sound are intrinsic to the design. From deep within the house, skylights afford glimpses of sky, creating a kinetic artwork as sunlight plays across the sculpted white forms. From both the street and within, sun plays on the steel fins to the glass infill. Enhanced by their whiteness, the fins sing in the sunlight, while tracing delicate shadows across the courtyard beneath. And just as the glass infill provides a window from the street to the artwork within, it equally provides a window from within, to the street trees beyond. A changing artwork through weather and seasons.

 

Planted courtyards at both ends of the house, as well as a green roof to the garage, provide a sense of retreat from the urban context. Glass louvres and large openings provide cross ventilation between the courtyards, while dynamic water features provide movement and sound, detracting from the immediacy of the street noise. While planting covers the garage roof, , photovoltaic panels cover the house roof, supplementing the passive solar control and ventilation, to ensure the house is as environmental as possible.

 

In a context dominated by three storey extensions, this is a modest and sustainable two storey extension, prioritising quality over quantity in every aspect of its design, to create a considerate, understated, and refined work of architecture.

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