The final touch to our work on the renovation of the penthouse and pavilion at Tapestry Court was the addition of a balcony to the living room – once a ballroom – on the first floor. Since the owner first moved in, a tiny willow on the front lawn had grown dramatically, and was now one of the most striking features of the river view from the window. Our task was to design a balcony that would allow uninterrupted year-round views of the willow and the river beyond, and allow the maximum possible amount of natural light into the room. Instead of a conventional design with a handrail at the top, we worked with Cake Industries and Foster Structures to weld mirrored steel louvres to a base plate, attached to the building with hidden fixings. The result is a secure balcony that appears almost invisible from the inside, allowing for a completely unrestricted view of the willow and across the landscape.
What was the brief?
To design a balcony for a first-floor living room of an apartment in Tapestry Court – once a 19th-century pub, now listed as a Building of Townscape Merit, set in a designated conservation area. Tapestry Court was originally built with a large balcony and rooftop grandstand for watching events on the Thames. This new balcony was intended to be a nod to that heritage.
What were the key challenges?
The balcony had to allow uninterrupted year-round views from the living room to the gardens and the river beyond, without compromising the amount of natural light allowed into the room. The client wanted the balcony to have a sculptural look, distinct from the conventional glass-sheet design, so it would attract the interest of passers-by.
What were the solutions?
Instead of a conventional design with a handrail at the top, we worked with fabricators Cake Industries and structural engineers Foster Structures to weld mirrored steel louvres to a base plate, attached to the building with a series of hidden fixings.The result is a secure balcony that appears almost invisible from the inside, allowing for a completely unrestricted view of the willow tree outside, and the grounds beyond it. From the perspective of the passer-by, the balcony appears invisible from a distance, revealing only the brickwork of the facade, then suddenly bursts into view as you approach – a wonderful moment of architectural drama.
Key products used:
Mirror-polished stainless steel.
Oak-framed French doors.
Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?
The client, although not an architect by profession, built an accountancy firm that worked predominately with architects and those in the design industry. Having bought the derelict property in the early 1980s, a balcony has been a dream addition – now realised at long last.
How is the project unique?
The balcony is entirely bespoke to the project – it is the only one of its kind in the world. The design references a variety of mirrored landscape installations from around the world, and pays paying specific tribute to the site’s past as the home of the Elizabethan mathematician, astrologer and occult philosopher John Dee, whose spirit mirror, held in the British Museum, was a significant influence
What building methods were used?
Russian For Fish worked with the skilled engineers at Cake Industries, who had the necessary metalwork expertise to create the louvres.