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Hayhurst and Co completes light-filled windowless house on backland site

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Light-filled but window-less, this house in south London shows the potential of infill development

On a garage site, bounded by the back gardens of Victorian and inter-war housing as well as a 1990s mews development, Whole House by Hayhurst and Co is a 92m² two-bedroom house. It is organised over a ground floor and basement around a central courtyard that together with roof and paving lights bring light deep into its series of rooms. 

Kilian OSullivan KILO 0219 0031

Kilian OSullivan KILO 0219 0031

Source: Kilian OSullivan

Architect’s view

Whole House is a house full of contradictions: a house with large ideas on a small garage site. A house with no windows that is flooded with light. A unique, one-off house for a speculative developer client: an exemplar for back-land, urban living.

The entrance to the house sits in a wide, deep reveal to the street elevation and is accessed via a large sliding gate – a design that creates a thick and deep composition to this small domestic elevation. The choice of a light, cream-coloured brick with a gently-raking, domestic, profiled parapet is designed to introduce a sense of quietness to a streetscene that is already rich in colour and architectural variety.

Like a walk around a cloister, the internal circulation and daylighting strategies were developed together to create a long, delightful and picturesque promenade that wraps around the internal courtyard.

As the stair wraps from the main bedroom suite at the bottom via the bathroom and second bedroom to the living spaces at the top, the angles of the courtyard vary in plan to provide a wider or narrower stair, a slower or faster pace, a place to stop and a place for furniture. It’s a strategy that reflects the level of implied privacy and openness along each of the routes and a design that maximises the sense of space through false perspectives in plan and section.

While creating a space that feels like another world inside, walking around the courtyard provides views to the sky, trees and surrounding rooftops in each direction, creating an abstract visual connection to the site’s environs.

Nick Hayhurst, director, Hayhurst and Co

01 Whole House GF Plan

01 Whole House GF Plan

Source: Hayhurst and Co

Ground floor plan

Project data

Start on site April 2015
Completion June 2016
Gross internal floor area 90m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 98m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Contract
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Hayhurst and Co
Client Bramfield Property Ltd
Structural engineer Toynbee Associates Ltd
CDM coordinator Goddard Consulting
Approved building inspector Complete Building Control Ltd
Main contractor REBUILD
CAD software used Vectorworks

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