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Haptic House

Haptic House

Haptic House is a renovation of a Grade II-listed Victorian dwelling in Hampstead to meet the changing needs of a young family. With its concern for simple, natural materials intended to age gracefully over time, the project is underscored by the concept of wabi-sabi, a Japanese aesthetic code which stresses the beauty of imperfection and transience.

The original house was an unmodernised, four storey semi-detached villa in a Conservation Area. The project focused on extending the rear of the building and remodelling its various floors, with only minimal changes to the historic frontage. Inverting the conventional relationship of living and sleeping spaces, the ground floor is converted into a master bedroom and the lower ground level transformed into a fluid, open-plan living, dining and kitchen space in direct contact with the garden. The topmost storey is remodelled to create a pair of identical home offices, with back-to-back children’s bedrooms on the first floor.

Reinforcing the connection between daily life and the presence of nature, the lower ground floor is excavated by half a metre so the garden is at eye level. A crisply detailed frameless glass extension augments the living space, enhancing light penetration and garden views. Glass is employed structurally, as columns and beams, while motorised aerofoil louvres made of cedar protect the delicately diaphanous butterfly roof from glare. A central gutter channels rainwater off the glass extension on to a ‘staining wall’. Sluiced by rust-impregnated rainwater interacting with tadelakt, a traditional, lime-based Moroccan plaster, the appearance of the wall will evolve over time.

The transition from inside to outside is defined and expressed through different manifestations of stone. Individual York stones are inset into a specially mixed terrazzo which forms the floor of the living space. This ‘stepping stone’ path flows out into the garden, extending up a cantilevered staircase crafted from solid stone, designed to emphasise its monolithic quality. Looping around the garden, the meandering trajectory is marked by reclaimed sleepers made from Azobe hardwood. Its focal point is the Suspended Shade, a dramatically cantilevered timber structure which functions as a discrete pavilion for contemplation and entertaining.

Ground and lower ground floors are linked by an immaculately detailed timber staircase featuring a wafer thin balustrade of laminated glass capped by a slim bronze handrail. This forensic yet poetic attention to detail extends to every aspect of the remodelling. For instance, the book-matched oak veneered doors enclosing the long storage wall in the main living space were exceptionally complex to produce, making intense demands on the craft skills of specialist joiners. Equally, the Spathroom on the first floor is a tour-de-force of highly considered detailing and fabrication. Inspired by Japanese bathing rituals, the outcome is a sumptuously sensual bathroom lined with teak and slate to create an intimate, womb-like enclave for washing and relaxing.

As the clients work from home, the upper storey is brought into play to provide two identical offices. In a twist worthy of an espionage novel, small secret rooms are inserted behind twin libraries, controlled by electromagnetic locks that can be concealed in the spine of a book.

Rigorous emphasis was placed on the selection of materials and how they are put together and experienced. Natural materials, such as York stone, oak, teak and slate were chosen as they have an inherently warm, haptic quality that responds to touch. A bespoke blackened, unpolished patina resembling dark bronze was applied to all ironmongery and metal fittings. Silky smooth clay plaster and rough exposed brickwork add further textural and visual richness. Embodying a crucial tenet of wabi-sabi, materials are intended to be subtly transmuted by the passage of time, weathering beautifully through use and the slow patina of age. [By Catherine Slessor*]

Contract Value £1.6m
Location Hampstead, London
Client Private
Date 2011-2015
Area 474m²
Design Team Paul McAneary Architects
Design Service From design concept to detailed design through to end of construction, material creation, lighting design, glazing design, landscape design, planning
Consultants Gareth Atkinson, William Dick TBC
Main Contractor Symm
Sub Contractor Simon Heslop, Paul Davies, William Garvey
Supplier Lazenby, tadelakt, Delta Light
Press 2018 ‘Paul McAneary Architects’ dlist Verified
Awards 2017 Designer K&B Awards – Won Bathroom Design of the Year (over £15k) with Spathroom 2016 The UK Property Awards – Highly Commended for Best Architecture Single Residence London 2015 The Wood Awards – Finalist for Interior Design of the Year with Spathroom

German Student Micro Living

German Student Micro Living

Paul McAneary Architects were appointed to provide accommodation for 5000 students across Germany on city centre sites from Kiel in the north to Munich in the south. The aim of the project is to remodel and adapt existing redundant buildings of the post-war era in an efficient and economical manner.

Each building is stripped back to its structural frame and effectively redesigned. Borrowing techniques from yacht design, in which function is paramount and space standards squeezed to an absolute minimum, bedroom are compactly but ingeniously planned. Though necessarily small, at 10 sqm per unit, bedrooms are augmented by more generous areas of communal space to encourage social interaction.

Within each unit, the considered application of design techniques such as shadow gaps, lighting and mirrors mitigates the compressed scale to create a highly civilised environment for studying and sleeping. Through the use of 150 mm shadow gaps, furniture appears to ‘float’ off the floor, and the furniture itself draws inspiration from classic Bauhaus models with elegant metal frames, so rooms are not dominated by bulky furniture.

Materials are carefully selected to require minimal maintenance and actually improve with use and age. Taking advantage of prefabrication, bathrooms are modular pods, with a simple plumbing connection that slots quickly and neatly into each unit. [By Catherine Slessor*]

Contract Value £350M
Location Kiel, Bremen, Berlin, Stuttgart, Munich, Germany
Client DREF
Date 2014-2017
Design Team Paul McAneary Architects
Design Service From design concept to detailed design, interior design, lighting design, glazing design, furniture design, 3D visualisation, Creation of Design Brand Manual for Design Implementation

Glass House

Glass House

Set among the historic warehouses and granaries of London’s Shad Thames, this project remodels an unusually large loft space in a converted 19th century mill house. The client requested a space for entertaining and displaying pieces of art, but also wanted to engender a sense of privacy and intimacy within the cavernous former industrial space.

The sophisticated scheme explores the use of glass in its many forms to adapt and enhance the existing interior. In particular, it features the latest electrochromic ‘smart’ glass technology that enables glass to metamorphose from opacity to transparency by the flick of a switch.

Pushing the boundaries of the material, Paul McAneary Architects employed the largest possible panels of smart glass to experiment with visual connections between the different spaces around a central atrium. When the glass is clear, boundaries dissolve creating a dramatic sense of spatial fluidity with through views from living room to kitchen and dining room to living room. Yet if a more intimate setting is required, the glass can be switched off to achieve an opaque finish.

The original ensuite bathroom was open to the master bedroom, an arrangement that has been retained, but with the inclusion of a smart glass enclosure for privacy. A similar principle applies to the large television screen, disguised by Mirona glass which acts as a mirror when it is not backlit. A crisp, clean-edged frame to match the monolithic black floor encloses the glass with the flat screen behind it.

When the television is turned off, the mirror accentuates the feeling of space, a deft sleight of hand that transforms the living room. In the bedroom a bronze Mirona glass mirror conceals the television, adding warmth to the interior. A large screen of acid-etched glass brings copious natural light into the bedroom. The smooth finish of the acid etching gives the glass a luxurious visual and sensual quality. This is augmented by two 3m high slots infilled with glass bricks, which generate compelling patterns of light, shadows and reflections.

Distinguished by a sharp monochrome palette of white walls and black floors, the project’s elegantly minimal aesthetic forms the perfect backdrop to the client’s collection of contemporary art, featuring pieces by Damian Hirst and Harland Miller. Yet it also alludes to history – the loft’s main entrance is framed by a lambrequin, giving a traditional element a sharp, modern twist. [By Catherine Slessor*]

Contract Value £1.8M
Location Southwark, London
Client Private
Date 2010
Area 245m²
Design Team Paul McAneary Architects
Design Service From design concept to detailed design through to end of construction, interior design, lighting design, glazing design, survey,building control
Main Contractor Sterling Build
Sub Contractor AV Nick Acheson
Supplier Vitra, Vola, Viabizzuno
Press 2013 Katie Hughes, ‘The Great Escape’, Renovate, March 2013 2012 Candace Jackson, ’A Bachelor Reboots, A London executive replaces a traditional home with a modern white loft’, Wall Street Journal, 1 June 2012