Denizen Works were invited for a competitive interview in early 2015 to discuss the possibilities of renovating the front elevation of a tired looking modernist house in Highgate.
The project is an act of urban generosity, completing a triptych of striking design interventions on the leafy edge of Highgate cemetery. The first of the neighbours is Eldridge Smerrin’s RIBA award winning Glass House. Next, and Valhalla’s immediate neighbour, is Invisible House by Dominic Mackenzie Architects, winner of Sunday Times Home of the Year 2014.
In such esteemed company, a striking proposal was required that reflected the urban context, transformed the appearance of our client’s home and all within a depth of 320mm.
The Invisible House next door reflects the living trees in Waterlow Park opposite and the house backs on to Highgate Cemetery so our proposal plays on this context. Rather than reflecting the living trees, we decided to use wood that had been ‘traumatised’. This wood, as dead as we could make it, reflects our clients’ interest in the macabre drawing on the ambience of Highgate Cemetery. The heavily charred larch fins creates an interesting counterpoint to the Invisible House that ties the two buildings together.
The fins are fixed to the facade using galvanised top-hat brackets and glued in place. The fronts of all the timbers are in one plane to unify the facade so when viewed from up and down the street, the elevation appears closed, but on moving past the house the differing depths of fins reveal the ghost of the original articulation of the dwelling behind.