Paolo Cossu Architects has renovated and extended a Victorian property in East London, returning a formerly partitioned house into a single-family home with larger living and entertaining spaces and a small art studio.
The brief required extensive remodelling of a three story town house and a basement floor flat to allow for improved flow between the upper and lower ground floors and the previously inaccessible garden. Key to the brief was for the upper and lower ground floors to feel connected and form part of a larger permeable living space.
To achieve this, PCA reinterpreted the vertical connection between the two floors by introducing an oversized timber staircase that joins the living rooms above with a kitchen and dining room below. PCA designed the staircase to act as a cross-level multi-functional space, becoming less a staircase and more a vertical corridor to display art, collect books or to sit, relax and read.
A double height void containing the staircase gives direct visual access across the two floors. Natural light fills the void through a large picture window that brings new perspectives of the outside, framing the sky or the garden.
The staircase enclosure functions as a linear connection between the kitchen and dining space at the back of the house with a living room and art studio to the front. Within the enclosure are discretely crafted flush doors that lead to utility rooms and a bathroom.
Three skylights illuminate the lower space, under which exposed roof joists cast a dynamic pattern of light and shadow across the walls and terrazzo floors of the lower ground level. The exposed joists allow for visual continuity of the ceiling, hiding the skylights whilst also providing privacy from above.
In contrast with the natural oak staircase and terrazzo floors, a bespoke, black-stained solid oak kitchen cuts through the garden doors providing storage space for the outdoor patio and bringing together the two spaces.
Paolo Cossu Architects envisioned the project sit in harmony with the surrounding context externally whilst introducing modern interventions that serve the interior functions of the house. A warm material palette was maintained internally throughout to complement the light colours of the terrazzo floor and to allow the client’s collection of books and art to take centre stage.
Paolo Cossu James Kitson
Structural Engineer: Ingeltóir Structural Engineers
Main Contractor: Gordom Ltd