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Brick House

contributed by 128 miesvanderrohe, 18 November 2009


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Description Brick House:

This family house stands amongst dense residential buildings in a busy part of West London. The land is shaped like a horse’s head, surrounded by three taller buildings, and can only be reached by a carriageway through the facade of an adjacent Victorian terrace. The paradox of making a new building on a site of almost insuperable difficulty can only be explained by the will of the clients, and their determination to make a new home in this particular part of the city where conventional sites were used up many years ago.

In this design, the accidental but wildly spatial shape of the site has been used to form the living spaces. The interior plan is completely separate from the typologies of the London town-house or the inner city loft, while still retaining a strong sense of dwelling at the heart of the city. Walking around the house takes you across broad spaces, to corners with windows overlooking small gardens, to intimate rooms deep inside. The exterior form of the house that is generated by this varied arrangement is incomprehensible from within. Instead, the form appears unbound and soft, as if an internal force is pressing the walls and roof out against the buildings around it.

The floors and walls of the house are built of brick, inside and out. The use of one material binds the whole building into an enveloping body, emphasising a skin-like character over any tectonic expression. The arrangement of the bricks within the mortar shifts as surfaces stretch, bend and twist, making them appear elastic. The ceiling of the upper floor is cast concrete and adopts different levels to make particular spaces within the overall deep plan. A flat ceiling appears to press down over the dining table, and a domed profile forms the high ceiling over the main living space.

Externally the house can only be seen in parts, glimpsed in strange views from pavements and out of the windows of the surrounding houses. At the entrance, a big door within the Victorian facade opens to a wide entranceway leading upwards. Like a Baroque chapel in Rome buried deep within the city’s close pattern of narrow streets, the expansive interior is a place of escape and dreams.

Photography by: Hélène Binet

Source: Mies Arch Prize:


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Information Brick House:

Project function:
London / United Kingdom

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