The extension re-frames the rear of the building by amplifying the characteristics found within its fabric. Designed and constructed by Tonkin Liu Architects in collaboration with local craftspeople, it serves as both a studio for the practice and a home for the partners’ family. The perimeter walls of the rear courtyard support a plywood roof, curved in plan and section to allow maximum light into a patio garden.
Rainwater gathered at the top of the townhouse falls through a pipe, following the roof’s curving leading edge to a spout over a long rainwater harvesting tank. The tank floods the patio at the push of a button, transforming it into a reflecting pool. The roof’s thin 110mm structural shell is an insulated stressed-skin, joined by round coffered skylights that echo the wave pattern of raindrops landing in the pool. It is a good place to be on a bad day. The extension accommodates both prosaic and poetic aspects of domestic and studio rituals. Under the roof, a garden room offers a living space for the home and a meeting space for the studio.
A mirrored wall in the covered outdoor area beyond conceals a workshop, cooking area, potting shed, store, and deep planter for the small trees in the green roof above. Below the patio, the existing basement has been extended to create a bedroom, two bathrooms, and an enlarged plant-filled light-well. Animated by the sun and the rain, the extension a landscape that harbors a family of carefully selected specimen plants. The green roof, garden room, reflecting pool and sunken light-well form a multi-layered urban garden, both celebrating and bringing people closer to nature.
all images © Edmund Sumner