London-based architect Simon Astridge has recently refurbished this London apartment on the top floor of a Victorian mid-terraced house to reference the Japanese heritage of the owner. Following a detailed brief, the project was conceived as a series of verbs and actions that occur within the spaces.
The project is named Clay House after the rough layers of clay applied to the walls – which the architects liken to the raw texture, or arakabe, common in Japanese homes. The technique, which creates an unfinished appearance, also eliminates the need to skim with plaster and paint.
As part of the renovation, Astridge turned the roof space into a lounge, kitchen and dining room with the two existing brickwork walls that run lengthways left exposed. A simple cooking area with bulthaup B2 island occupies the space underneath the front eaves of the residence, while dark grey seating is located in front. The dining table is located in front of the rear dormer window with south-facing views over the London skyline. The top leaf of the tripartite sash windows top leaf can be opened to allow breeze into the space.
The most beautiful part of this space is how the London skyline changes by the second and how the clay inside has a relationship with the clouds and hues outside.
On the level below, the architect created a bathing zone carefully designed for the needs of the Japanese owner. Crossing from the clay living thresholds with tatami carpeting, you enter the bathing zone. This zone has all finishes in fumed oak panels. The area is heated to provide thermal comfort while undressing. The area has a simple mild steel sink that is sealed and weathers with use. This reminds us of the terror of time, something that is not present with pristine white ceramic bathrooms.
The taps are brass reclaimed from a plumbers merchants in Lisbon, Portugal. Once unrobed, you pass through another threshold, this time tempered glazed crittal screen and door into the washing area. The shower wet room and bathing area are made from grey stone. As you enter the space, the ceiling raises up into the eaves of the existing roof above, this allows the owner to install a series of humidity grabbing plants hung off the existing ceiling joists that receive their water through the steam evaporated following showering or bathing.
Light-filled bedrooms are also set on this level, where reddened plywood is used for the skirting boards and doorways. A flush plywood panel added above the door emphasises the verticality of the space.
all images © Nicholas Worley