British studio Will Gamble Architects seamlessly incorporated natural materials into the design of the Palm Springs project. This stunning glazed extension, situated at the rear of a Grade II-listed house in north London, pays homage to the iconic desert modernism style that originated in Palm Springs during the mid-20th century. The use of these materials not only enhances the aesthetic appeal but also blends harmoniously with the surrounding conservation area.
The client approached Will Gamble Architects with the task of extending, reconfiguring, and refurbishing their property. The primary objective was to restore the upper parts of the villa while creating a contemporary multifunctional living space on the lower ground floor that could accommodate various activities such as work, entertainment, and relaxation.
During the design process, the client’s strong connection to Palm Springs was taken into consideration. The design scheme drew inspiration from Modernism, particularly Desert Modernism, which is renowned for its use of floor-to-ceiling glass, clean lines, natural materials, and seamless integration between indoor and outdoor spaces. These principles became the driving force behind the entire project, while still respecting the architectural significance of the grade 2 listed building.
To celebrate the unique character of the existing villa, a lightweight contemporary addition was proposed. This addition featured floor-to-ceiling glass panels that were supported by a monolithic plinth made of terrazzo, creating a strong connection between the intervention and the surrounding garden. The terrazzo, extending from the interior to the exterior like “fingers,” further enhanced the relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces.
The use of terrazzo and Douglas fir was not limited to the exterior but also continued into the interiors. A lattice roof, suspended among the glazed walls, appeared to float above the informal living space, adding a touch of elegance. The terrazzo walls and floor-to-ceiling Douglas fir joinery provided a cohesive design aesthetic, which was further accentuated by the seamless polished concrete floor that extended throughout the living space and into the garden.
The large open-plan living arrangement was designed to be flexible, allowing for the creation of a private meeting room through sliding pocket doors when needed. At the heart of this versatile living space, inspired by the American diner concept, was a banquette that served as an informal dining area. This banquette added a unique touch to the overall design, making it both functional and visually appealing.