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