2Brick House has been likened by its architect, Caruso St John, to 'a Baroque chapel locked up behind a Roman street'. Shoehorned into an awkward back-land site at the end of a west London street, the Victorian entrance gives way to a rendered corridor that rises gently up to the house itself, an austere but poetic building crafted from concrete and brick.
The client, a family with two children, wanted a home which would afford privacy, while providing the largest possible entertaining and living space. The ground level contains a study and a roomy kitchen/dining/living area which is both playful and sculptural. A complex folded concrete ceiling maximises the volume while complying with the neighbours' rights to light, but also gives definition to the different functions carried out in the ground-floor kitchen/dining/living area: the low horizontal plane above the dining area gives way to a high, domed profile above the main living space.
Bedrooms are on the lower-ground level (planning restrictions allowed for only a single storey above ground) where a generous corridor doubles as a library space. The combination of the exposed brick and the intimate scale of the cellular spaces creates a monastic feel which is entirely different from the extravagance of the upper floor. The three bedrooms are modest in size. But each one has a fully glazed wall which opens onto a small private courtyard of its own, effectively doubling the space and exploiting every corner of the triangular site.
Martha Schwartz I really like this. It has a very solid, peaceful feel to it, and there are a lot of satisfying moments. It seems complete. It's tight and compact. It's very controlled. Decisions have been made that make sense. Nothing seems random. Nothing is ying off the handle. It's very private, like going into a haven or a cave. I lived in New York for a long time and I really appreciate being able to go into a space that is private and quiet.
Ian Ritchie I love the threshold - the journey from the street to the main living space is very special. Where the upper level enjoys geometry, the lower level buries it.
Stefan Behnisch It is an interesting piece of architecture. I like the way the ceiling is done, and how the light comes into it. But for me it seems intellectually driven, a bit academic, and I can hardly imagine a joyful family life with kids laughing in this building.
Mariella Frostrup It feels as though it was rather pedantically steered by the architectural vision.
But there are some very nice touches, and it is a really beautiful tranquil oasis in a busy urban environment.
Ian Ritchie What would I do if I had 30,000 bricks and several cement mixers turn up?
Where would one start and the other begin? If I only played with the moving cloud and the occasional ray of sunshine I'd make the bricks dance.
Subcontractors and suppliers
Internal bricks Furness; external bricks Freshfield Lane; roofing Sarnafil; sanitaryware Ideal Standard, Duravit, Dornbracht; ironmongery Ize, Yannedis; internal render Sto; external lights Bega; roofl ights Glazing Vision; underfloor heating Wirsbo; damp proofing RIW; joinery, doors and windows Valley Joinery; stainless-steel light fittings Spartan Stainless; brickwork Liberty Brickwork; electrical Capital Electrics; heating RW Rodwell; roofing Sarnafi l Architect Caruso St John Architects Client Private Quantity surveyor and planning supervisor Jackson Coles Services engineer Mendick Waring Structural engineer Price & Myers Contractor Harris Calnan Construction Contract value: confidential Date of completion: May 2005 Gross internal area: 380m