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Surman Weston inserts stained glass screen into former Victorian church

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The dramatic intervention acts as a privacy screen for this live/work space in Islington

The brief was to repurpose the roof space of a former Methodist Church dating from the 1880s to create an adaptable space – dubbed Replica House Studios – that could be used as a co-working studio in the short term and as a home in the long term. 

Rather than trying to design a studio that could subsequently be transformed into a home, Surman Weston’s approach was to combine both uses in one design. There are mezzanine platforms at either end of the rectangular plan, while the central area is left as an open, double-height space that draws in light from the clerestory windows.

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The mezzanine level to the east provides a meeting space/study, which opens on to a compact roof terrace. To the west, the mezzanine level forms an office/bedroom and is made private with the addition of a stained glass screen, which continues down to form a suspended staircase. This screen and stair is built from powder-coated steel with a diamond motif designed to reference both the existing timber trusses and the building’s previous usage.

The lower level is an open and flexible space containing a kitchen and the main live/work space, entered via a short hall under the mezzanine. 

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Replica House by Surman Weston, lower level

Architect’s view

The aesthetic of the project was derived from the existing timber trusses. Sandblasting to remove the many layers of paint applied over the last 130 years revealed the remarkable texture of the original timbers. This led to the idea of creating a canvas of textures, all in white, against which the colourful stained glass elements are offset. 

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The array of white textures includes: enamelled kitchen worktops, bleached OSB cupboards, oiled oak flooring, washed plywood furniture, sprayed wood-wool acoustic ceiling panels, painted pine panelling, ceramic door handles and the beautifully textured original timber trusses. 

Project data

Architect Surman Weston
Completion 2018 
Client Private 
Budget Undisclosed 
Structural engineer Structure Workshop 
Main contractor Modernarc 
Metalwork fabricator Creative Metalwork 

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