|Project Name||The Courtyard House||Posted in||Residential, Design, Interior Design||Location||
|Area (sqm)||110||Completed||March 2017|
Wedged between a block of terrace houses and a row of sixteen garages, the narrow, windowless West London storage shed that Notting Hill-based architectural practice De Rosee Sa was asked to turn into a two-bedroom home was far from ideal. Yet despite the spatial limitations and the tight planning constraints, De Rosee Sa managed to create a modern, daylight-filled, two-bedroom house of minimalist elegance and impeccable craftsmanship that nonetheless references the site’s industrial past.
The owners, who live across the road, bought the property containing an old timber yard in order to prevent it being overdeveloped. Its extremely narrow footprint and the impossibility of having windows along its 37 metre-long boundaries, coupled with strict planning limitations that dictated that the new building could not exceed the existing one-storey structure in height, posed serious challenges in converting the run-down shed into a modern residence. To overcome these hurdles, the architects incorporated several skylights and a series of small courtyards to inundate the aptly names Courtyard House with natural light.
The granite-paved courtyards, one of which is sunken to allow the introduction of a basement level to accommodate the requested second bedroom, spatially divide the long and thin building into three separate volumes. At the front, between an enclosed entrance yard and the first internal courtyard, is the lounge. The kitchen and dining area is located in the middle of the building while the two bedrooms, one on top of the other, overlook the sunken courtyard at the back for more privacy. Meanwhile, a third, smaller sunken courtyard brings daylight into the en-suite bathrooms.
Enclosed by glazed, steel-framed windows and doors that give off both a contemporary vibe and an industrial sensibility, the outdoor yards prevent the spaces in-between from feeling enclosed despite the lack of external views, while affording lines of sight across the length of the building. In the summer, when the doors are opened, they also allow for natural cross-ventilation.
The courtyard walls are clad in Western Red Cedar battens, which together with the steel-frame glazing allude to the site’s history as a timber storage yard. The timber battens continue inside, cladding the two small auxiliary volumes on the back of the courtyards that house a guest toilet, a study niche and a utility room, further blurring the distinction between the indoors and outdoors. The cedar striated surfaces, along with the herringbone-patterned parquet flooring, are the only textural elements inside the house softening the otherwise stern, minimalist interiors of crisp white surfaces.
Eschewing ornamental flourishes, the house is sparsely furnished with an eclectic selection of vintage and rustic pieces that elegantly complement a refined aesthetic that harmoniously oscillates between modernity and quaintness, and speak to the fact that “once inside, you forget that this house is in London” as director of De Rosee Sa Architects Max de Rosee succinctly described the project’s key aspect.