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FIRST LOOK

Vine Architecture Studio reconfigures east London apartment

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The east London-based practice has painted a spiral stair yellow for this top-floor flat

Vine Architecture was asked to reconfigure an apartment in Mile End which was in need of repair. Its access also needed rethinking, as its entrance was via a stairwell shared with offices below. The architect simplified the layout  by dividing it into equal quarters, retaining the existing load-bearing masonry walls and demarcating the interconnecting spaces through the form of the ceiling.

Vine architecture studio mile end road 10 © nicholas worley

Vine architecture studio mile end road 10 © nicholas worley

A simple palette of materials and finishes has been used to characterise the space. White washed timber combined with smoked oak flooring and stained spruce rafters complement each other while oiled oak details unify the scheme. The dual-pitched roofline is accentuated internally through the partly exposed roof structure.

The main feature of this project is the external spiral stair which has been painted a vivid yellow to stand out against the external pale brick. It connects the roof terrace to the one on the same level as the apartment – with views out over London.

Vine architecture studio mile end road 18 © nicholas worley

Architect’s view

Our ambition was to reimagine the proportions, arrangement and flow of this cramped flat. We sought to rationalise the layout of the apartment while retaining the intersecting load-bearing masonry walls that subdivided the space into equal quarters which, in turn, allowed us to define the four living functions of washing, dining, relaxing and sleeping. A level change and roof valley help demarcate these interconnected spaces and provide undulating height and rhythm which is designed to animate and unite the apartment. 

Soft north light washes through the wall-to-wall rooflights in the double dual-pitched roof above. The incline of the roof is in part determined by the angle and path of the sun. This allowed us to maintain a large area of glazing while regulating internal temperature through the passive measure of orientation and pitch to minimise direct solar gain. A series of concealed motorised blinds is fitted between the rafters hidden in a soffit pocket in the ceiling. In the north facade, daylight filters through both the frameless picture window with brickwork reveals and wide slim-line sliding doors with a level threshold for a smooth transition between inside and outside. Full-height three-layer spruce panels serve as sliding double doors for the purposefully wide bedroom opening. The same stained spruce panels are used for the adjacent kitchen cabinetry.

The project focuses on the harmony between space and finishes. White washed timber is paired with smoked oak flooring to create a simple and complementary aesthetic. Stained spruce rafters, both fully exposed and partly concealed, express the structure of the roof while oiled oak details sew a common thread throughout. Continuing the finishes and features was important to maintain the flow through the interlocking rooms. Durable Accoya timber decking will silver naturally with age to complement the internal oak flooring. The external pale brick and mortar help to create a robust yet soft appearance and provide texture to the new rear facade. Painted a vivid yellow, the sweeping spiral stair adds a sculptural element externally as it visually connects the two terraces.

Rory Pennant-Rea, director, Vine Architecture Studio

Vine architecture studio mile end road proposed exploded axo

Project data

Start on site June 2017
Completion April 2018
Gross internal floor area 72m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 140m²
Form of contract Traditional (JCT Minor Works with Contractors Design 2016)
Construction cost Excluding external terrace £301,000; including external terrace £330,000
Construction cost per m² Excluding external terrace £4,180; internal + external £2,357
Architect Vine Architecture Studio
Client Capital Estates Limited
Structural engineer Engineers HRW
Party wall surveyor Route One Building Consultancy
Energy consultant Elmhurst Energy
CDM coordinator Vine Architecture Studio
Approved building inspector JMPartnership
Main contractor Homeway Builders
CAD software used AutoCAD

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