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Coffey Architects’ Hidden House revealed

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A one-storey, 72m² home that cleverly sneaks into the site of a caretaker’s shed in Clerkenwell, London

Hidden House, on the shortlist for a RIBA London Award, packs two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a combined living/dining area into a highly constrained site in the Clerkenwell Green conservation area.

Bounded in by walls and next to the Grade II-listed Clerkenwell House of Detention (built 1847), it sits above former prison vaults, further limiting what is possible on the site.

A key aspect of the brief was to maintain privacy while maximising both space and light.

Reclaimed London Stock brick from the area was used for the exterior envelope to enable the building to blend into its environment.

Internally, the polished concrete floor slab has underfloor heating, utilising its thermal mass to retain and slowly emit heat. It also eliminates the need for radiators, further increasing useable space. The perimeter walls are lined in oak panelling which also doubles as built-in storage.

Above, a floating roof is punched through by a series of ocular rooflights, enabling the interior spaces to be naturally day-lit without sacrificing privacy. The rooflight in the master bedroom can be mechanically opened to the space of the sky above, giving a sense of space and light beyond the relative confines of the internal space.

The main living space can also be opened out with full-length sliding windows and doors, which open to a shared garden to the west and private patio space to the north.

Coffey hiddenhouse©timsoar (1)

Architect’s view

Hidden House is a series of internal spaces constrained in plan by a listed perimeter garden curtilage and held in section by a series of floating ocular rooflights. Residents enjoy the light-filled void space in between these elements, a space heightened in tension by the seemingly effortless roof structure which is concentrated to a point floating above the main living space, defining zones within for use. This special place is hidden, part building, part garden, mostly sky. It’s difficult to find, but well worth the effort.

Phil Coffey, director, Coffey Architects

Margaret ravenscroft hidden house  section

Project data

Start on site January 2016
 December 2016
Gross internal floor area 72m2
Form of contract Traditional
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Coffey Architects
Client Selim Bayer
Structural engineer Morph Structures
M&E consultant Create Consulting
QS Stockdale
Main contractor Woods London 

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Not just a 'hidden house' but hidden vaults below, with the stair removed but presumably still in some hidden use?.

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