Chapel, London

Designed by: Craftworks
For client: Private client Floor area: 225.00 M² Year of completion: 2018
Submitted for: House of the Year


Public Score
5.59
5.43 Function
5.82 Innovation
5.52 Creativity
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© Edmund Sumner

Ground Floor: living space

About the Project

Our brief was to create a home which can readily adapt without alteration to encompass a family gathering, or simultaneously retreat to become singular and introverted. Volumes and scale overlap so there are rooms within rooms, micro and macro spaces working simultaneously under an embodied roof.

Though it was never actually consecrated as a chapel, the unhallowed status became the protagonist for architectural intervention. The vocabulary of structural components; axis, narthex, fan vault, nave, and crossing were recast with similar dwelling archetypes: medieval hall houses, Victorian attic spaces, and long galleries to bring a unique dwelling type. Interior elements such as pulpit, confession, altar, pipe organ, and matroneum were interwoven with everyday forms of domestic furniture and situated around the activities of eating, sleeping, cooking, relaxing and study. Vertically, the spaces divide between day and night, heaven and earth.

Materials are ascetic in their quality so as to enrich and resonate with the emotional atmosphere. The external brickwork is constructed of bricks reclaimed from the existing chapel and the roof slate is reclaimed from locally demolished buildings. The inner volume is a pearly shell of waxed lime plaster and the floor is laid with extra wide lengths of bleached douglas fir, contrasting with the austere dark tones of the fumed oak joinery. All work was carried out by our in-house team of local craftsmen and London based sub-contractors.

What’s unique about it

We believe Chapel is a unique resolution of a very specific brief which has been carved out from challenging constraints – both in needing to restore a deleterious existing form and ensuring that the privacy of adjacent neighbours remains unaffected. Both of these restricting factors meant the external envelope was limited to any adaptation or change. The success of the project starts with an open minded approach to design which embraces a conservational repair and reinstatement of the original Chapel. In this regard, there is an instant departure from any exterior fetish. To counter balance an unadorned box, Chapel sought to yield its freedom through the interior volume which held far less legislative restraints.

The clients’ brief was stipend and only had basic needs for four bedrooms and ‘liveability’. In working closely with the clients at the early design stages, we were able to awaken them to the possibilities of space and volume by testing the ideas with physical models. The idea of a single volume ‘tent’ was a win as it suited their flexible living needs whilst creating the best opportunity to enhance skyward views and maximise daylight. The experience and enjoyment of the spaces work between these two dimensions; crafted domestic elements - which offer cosiness - and the theatre of a grand space, which offers sublimity. We believe these micro and macros forces at play are what make Chapel a unique house both to experience and more essentially, a joy to live in.

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© Edmund Sumner

Ground Floor: mezzanine

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Ground Floor: mezzanine

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Exterior: rear garden

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© Edmund Sumner

Ground Floor: roof lights

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Ground Floor: kitchen / dining

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Ground Floor: open plan

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Ground Floor: kitchen / dining

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Ground Floor: living space

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Exterior

Location of project:
Credits:
Craftworks

Jane Brockbank Gardens

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