Black Box is a small first floor rear extension to a mid terrace Victorian-era house in London’s Islington neighborhood. The client, a professional couple, has commissioned local studio MATA Architects to conceive a space that could function both as a home office and occasional guest bedroom with en suite bathroom. “We appointed MATA Architects to design an extension of our ground floor and the replacement of a dilapidated winter garden/ conservatory on the first floor,” the couple explains. “The aim of the project was to increase our living space on the ground floor and to repurpose an old family bathroom on the first floor in the form of a much-needed home office that could double as a guest bedroom with en suite bathroom.”
Situated on a dense urban site with neighboring buildings in close proximity, any proposed extension would be overlooked from multiple sides – a typical London situation. At the same time, driven by a desire to maximize natural daylight provision and celebrate key views across adjacent gardens, MATA Architects wanted the new space to benefit from large windows.
The extension is conceived as a ‘reconfigurable box’ in dark stained Siberian Larch. Two bespoke counterbalanced shutters are manually operated internally using winches. These allow for multiple configurations of the ‘box; from fully open with window overhang to counter summer solar gain, to shut tight. The dynamic nature of the façade encourages the user to interact with the architecture and adapt their environment for comfort.
“This is a small and seemingly simple first-floor extension conceived as a ‘reconfigurable box’ – both internally and externally,” says Dan Marks, Director at MATA Architects. “The triumph, for us, is that this simplicity succeeds in concealing so much precision engineering that is packed into the box. The carefully crafted result is borne out of a close collaboration with our structural engineer and specialist fabricator (based just outside of Edinburgh) where the extension was largely prefabricated and tested in factory conditions before delivery to and installation on site.”