Fruit of the loo in Belsize Park
Two lychee fruits were the inspiration for the bathroom pods in this London flat, remodelled by architect John Kerr: rough exterior skins encasing translucent silky fruits. The two curved pods, linked by a glazed node, jut out into the bedroom and are by far the most conspicuous feature of this ground floor flat in Belsize Park.
On entry, the visitor immediately encounters the exterior wall of the larger 'male' pod. Its sandlike surface, delicately patterned with random striations, invites you to touch it - an effect achieved by Venetian plastering with a dragged finish; the final seal appears to be extremely effective as there was not a mark to be seen despite the presence of two toddlers.A narrow vertical glazed slit reveals the curved wall slicing through the existing bedroom wall, and gains an extra slither of light in the corridor.
From the bedroom, an opaque glazed door leads into the splayed wash basin cubicle, the link between the lychees, with the pods to left 'his', and right 'hers'. The male pod contains a shower and WC and is raised approximately 250mm off the ground. The curved wall is in a brilliant glossy marine blue (suggesting the glossy interior of the fruit) with a 'spatulata' finish. The Venetian plaster is applied in several layers, on top of an underlying stud frame covered in waterproof render/plaster finish. It is built up to a depth of 1.5mm thick, each layer skilfully applied with a stainless steel trowel, and finished with a wax coat: it feels like glass. The flooring is in unglazed porcelain tiles, similar in colour to limestone but easier to cut and requiring no maintenance. The turquoise female pod is occupied by an organic-shaped bath with Starck fittings.
This piece de resistance overshadows other aspects of Kerr's refurbishment: the glass screens either side of the mirror above the wash basin, which read as two internal windows, illuminating and enlivening an otherwise dark internal corridor; the narrow floor to ceiling solid core timber doors - Kerr says he can imagine a giraffe feeling at home in the flat - and another 'feature' second shower in the guest room.
Other elements of the design have been kept deliberately simple. The walls are painted offwhite, lighting is by ceiling-mounted downlighters, floors are timber or carpeted. The fitted kitchen units support a continuous black granite (nero asoluto) worktop which wraps up the wall below hanging cupboards.
From lychee to human anatomy, the scope for free-associative imagery and symbolism in this interior makes it an enjoyable project to explore and ponder.
ARCHITECT John Kerr Associates: John Kerr
ENGINEER Price & Myers
CONTRACTOR Phoenix Builders
SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS radiators Bisque; bath and fittings Starck, through C P Hart; ss sink and Vola mixer Aston Mathews; Venetian plaster finishes Regency Venetian Plastering; Italian Cotticino porcelain floor tiles Towe r Ceramics; glazing Abbas Glazing; ss electrical fittings Forbes & Lomax; paint Dulux; kitchen units Pronorm