Block Architecture's modern kitchen addition for an historic residence in London capitalizes on natural light and lush vistas.
Jen Renzi -- Interior Design, 7/1/2001 12:00:00 AM
Natural light and garden views can go a long way towards creating the illusion of spaciousness, as attested by Block Architecture's 123-sq.-ft. kitchen addition for a London townhouse. Partners Zoe Smith and Graeme Williamson were enlisted to raze and rebuild the Georgian residence's cramped kitchen, working within the narrow footprint—approximately seven ft. wide—to avoid England's lengthy and restrictive application and approval process for building additions. Although no larger than the previous kitchen, the unapologetically modern structure built in its stead provides a seamless engagement with the back yard through expansive glazing and spatial openness—less an enclosure than a pathway to the outdoors.
"The clients wanted to maximize natural light and fully explore the relationship between the garden and the internal space," explains Smith. "The basic premise was to gradually break down solid walls and internal closures, allowing more light into the interior as you move through the room." Culminating in a skylit eating nook, the new galley kitchen offers verdant views through a bay window and through sliding, floor-to-ceiling glass doors. The two top-mounted, seven-ft.-wide pocket doors slide towards each other, retracting into a hollow cast-concrete wall that dissolves the threshold between the kitchen and garden. The texture and coloration of the concrete wall mimic the deck (built of Western red cedar that ages to a silver-gray hue) to appear as a continuous, folding plane, thus uniting the two zones with a single architectural gesture.
Materials and treatments throughout the interior capitalize on the abundance of natural light and further emphasize the connection between indoors and out. Translucent glass backsplashes along either wall suggest illusory, panoramic windows. Backlit cabinets (which double as a secondary light source) are faced with glass-reinforced plastic; when illuminated, the milky material captures colored shadows cast by the items stored behind. Each door of the wheeled under cabinets, which slide out from below the Iroko wood countertops to form auxiliary cooking space, is lacquered in a different glossy shade of sky blue, gradually segueing from dark to light. The coloration, Smith reveals, is meant to recall a paint swatch.
Although London's notoriously gray weather is the stuff of legend, the outdoor space is usable for much of the year. And, when clouds and rain prevail, the forces of nature can be enjoyed from within the light and airy vitrine.
The project was completed for approximately $113,000.