Unsupported browser

For a better experience please update your browser to its latest version.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We use cookies to personalise your experience; learn more in our Privacy and Cookie Policy. You can opt out of some cookies by adjusting your browser settings; see the cookie policy for details. By using this site, you agree to our use of cookies.


Sophie Hicks Architects designs minimalist concrete house in Kensington


The house at Earl’s Court Square has an underground lower storey to reduce visibility from the street

Sophie Hicks Architects has completed a submerged house in Kensington, London. The site of just 75m² is in a conservation area, which meant a planning constraint height of two storeys – one above ground and one below.

1aecs 005 main entrance

005 main entrance

The ground floor has generous ceiling heights of up to 3m, with glazed extensions creating a visual connection to the surrounding trees.

The house has been constructed out of an exposed concrete frame with a rough board-marked finish, while the floors are polished concrete with underfloor heating. The high-specification glass is framed with a grid of steel T-section beams. 

Sophie Hicks Architects began by designing private houses before moving into architectural consultancy for a number of high-profile fashion companies to give expression to their brand identities – working with Paul Smith, Chloe, Acne Studios and Yohji Yamamoto.

1aecs int 003


Architect’s view

Our goal was to create an urban house that was comfortable but sustainable – and looked and felt, in every sense, healthy. The challenge was to do so on a site of just 75m² in central London, in a conservation area where we were limited by planning constraints of two storeys.

The design aims to maximise not only the actual space internally but also the perception of space. We have thus built right up to the boundaries – something that entailed both delicate party wall negotiations and a careful choice of construction methods.

In addition, the house is visually open to the natural world outside, with abundant natural light and air and carefully framed views of the surrounding canopy of trees. The construction of the house is clean and legible. The structural frame is exposed concrete with a rough board-marked finish. The floors are polished concrete, which can be heated and cooled. The glazing of aluminium and stainless-steel framed windows and doors, some of which slide, is contained within a strongly dominant grid of T-section steel.

To reduce heat loss and solar gain, in line with Building Regulations, we chose high- specification glass, while we opted for a structure in concrete with significant thermal mass, for the same reason. The house is a quiet machine with heating, cooling, lighting and alarm systems to offset COemissions.

Contemporary houses like this are sadly rare in Kensington – and even more rarely visible from the street.

Sophie Hicks and Tom Hopes, architects, Sophie Hicks Architects

1aecs section 1

section 1

Project data

Start on site January 2017
Completion date July 2018
Gross internal floor area 150m²
Form of contract JCT Intermediate Works
Construction cost £944,000
Construction cost per m² £6,293
Architect Sophie Hicks Architects
Executive architect BB Partnership
Client Sophie Hicks Architects
Structural engineer MLM Consulting Engineers
Quantity surveyor Corrigan Gore & Corrigan Street
M&E consultant Libra Services
Lighting consultant Arup Lighting
Landscape consultant Tania Compton
Project manager BB Partnership
CDM co-ordinator HCD Management
Approved building inspector Head Projects Group
Groundworks and structure contractor GMP Glazing
Finishing contractor Advent Developments
Joinery Manning Bespoke
CAD software used Vectorworks
Annual CO2 emissions 18.2kg/m²


Readers' comments (2)

  • It would be interesting to know what previously occupied this site.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Love it... questions the norm... I think its great piece of product design, and considerable more mature than the Architect's Sieghart House deign!. Iterative process of design.. I wonder how will the occupant cope with long dark winters.....

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions.

Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs

Discover architecture career opportunities. Search and apply online for your dream job.
Find out more