Refurbishment of 1930’s villa to produce a family house with studio exhibition facilities
The client purchased a rather unprepossessing building – apparently built in the 1960s – which had fabulous views over the South Downs. A clue to its actual heritage was the existence of a tall Crittal window illuminating the full height of a concrete staircase, and further research uncovered the fact that it had in fact been but by Connell, Ward and Lucas – a pioneering firm of architects who achieved significant recognition in the 1930s for their innovative designs and creative use of thin concrete walls; many of their buildings are now Grade 1 and 2 listed. This discovery inevitably informed many of the subsequent design decisions which were intended to remove the later additions and plastic fenestration that had almost completely concealed the original structure.
The first stage of the project involved the creation of a new freestanding studio and “Thinking Space” which was designed in the shape of a perfect cube. Both buildings were clad in galvanised corrugated steel with great care taken to ensure the detailing allowed the façade to be read as pure sculptural forms. The Cube (later shortlisted for a RIBA small projects award) was formed using a prefabricated timber panel structure with the structure elements remaining visible once complete, allowing the bracing to be used as book shelving and for the display of objects. Heat was provided by use of a metal wood burning stove set in the corner of the room.