Spaces

A MONASTIC OASIS

5th July 2018

When I look at this house, just as a set of photos without any of the accompanying details, I’d never guess that it was located in London. From the choice of materials to the quiet restraint of the design, to details such as the pebbled courtyard garden, I visualise this house in a much less urban setting; a peaceful place away from the hustle of the city.

Yet this house sits on Tiverton Road, between Kensal Rise and Queens Park in London’s NW10, and this ‘quiet’ design offers a respite from the urban environment that extends out beyond it. Currently on the market with The Modern House, this property is described as a ‘monastic oasis’, and I can’t think of a better description for a design as pared back and beautifully simple and thoughtful as this.

This house is the work of the London-based Takero Shimazaki Architects who took inspiration from Turner’s Interior of an Italian Church of 1819. As The Modern House writes: ‘the house is intended as a sanctum from the modern world, its monolithic structure and measured pools of light a rare environment for focus and reflection. The design expertly marries light and lighting with a simple, textured palette of concrete, natural wood and stone, echoing the Japanese philosophy of Wabi-Sabi.’

Arriving at this house, the materials alone would suggest the tactile and restrained aesthetic to follow. You enter through a concealed door in a chestnut fence to find a polished concrete gallery, with a steel barrier to the courtyard void, which carries you through an entrance porch into the hallway of bare plaster. The main bedroom lies on one side, with a wall of shuttered concrete and two arched windows overlooking the courtyard garden, while the room on the other side has a sedum roof, with a large circular roof light drawing natural light down into the space.

The corridor leads to a study, with a glass floor giving a view down into the kitchen, and three roof lights flood this study with light. The bathroom here has the most beautiful marble herringbone tiling, with brass fittings and with a reclaimed stone bird-bath combined with a bespoke stand to create a unique basin.

Everywhere you look in the house, the pairing of materials is exquisite, as is the detailing. The concrete spiral staircase that leads to the lower ground level features a brass handrail – a beautiful juxtaposition. Light flows between spaces thanks to the roof lights and windows – another arched window draws light down the staircase, while the kitchen is illuminated from that glass floor above, and from an open porthole looking through to the staircase and dining room.

The pebbled courtyard has a Japanese Acer that gives a vibrant burst of green against the concrete, and there’s an outdoor shower here. An arched glazed door opens into this courtyard, and the living room also opens into this space. Meanwhile the shower room on this level also offers a burst of green with striking cement tiling, again with brass fittings and a second stone basin.

This house reminds me of another house I visited years ago in Edinburgh, owned by an architect and designed by another architect, Andrew Stoane. While very different in form, that house had a similarly tactile palette of wood and concrete, but also it was designed to create connections and views between the internal spaces and an enclosed courtyard garden. So many buildings are about the views out, but this house sat on an enclosed urban plot so external views weren’t an option.

Likewise, this house at Tiverton Road opens up views between the interior and the courtyard garden. I’d love to see this house at night, to see how the internal lighting shifts the ambience of these spaces and plays against the concrete walls. See more of this unique home on The Modern House.

All photography from The Modern House.

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