Every year we design a new Christmas Card and this year we ventured into creating a bespoke design using a typical London Georgian Townhouse which was transformed into an advent calender. The Christmas advent card windows open to reveal views into the interiors of a house. The interiors were inspired by some of the refurbishments we’ve carried out this year, including the warm pink high internal panelled walls, floating shelves, dark aubergine hallways and traditional kitchen with central cooking island. The card was all designed and realised beautifully by Christophe Geiger .
The card has been well received and every numbered window is followed on our Instagram , along with images of scenes from our residential refurbishments portfolio.
For those of you following us in Instagram you should know that we had been preparing for our show – a sensorial experience for our clients who have a beautiful barn located on the Norfolk coast. We introduced the idea as the floor plans of the barn were sizeable and as the design developed on paper it was becoming more complex and harder to imagine in reality. This way at least we could all walk around our design ourselves and discover how it works or even if it works as we believe – it’s a first for us!
It began with a mass stripping out of the property including taking down ceilings to uncover the existing roof structure, where we wanted to see the original trusses and purlins in the top floor, removal of many of the walls to portray the new open living areas. Much of the layout was clearly marked on the floors using high visibility pink neon tape, hanging curtains to display the new private spaces, and a foil blanket imitating a new floating central fireplace. We gathered materials such as timbers , images, rustic ironmongery, fabrics, woven matting, bricks and tiles to show the palette of materials.
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Then the day of the presentation itself , fragranced candles were lit, milk cartons were positioned laiden with sparkly tea candles, the main fire lit and large flood lights used to not only light the spaces but create interesting shadows on the main walls. The experience helped to capture the proposed feeling of the place not only the look.
All in all the process was a success, allowing the client to understand both the scale and location of the different areas which can be difficult to understand when shown on paper. This process also aided our design, the reality of the proportion of spaces became very real. As a consequence of the presentation we altered a couple of the areas we felt were did not feel right. Essentially we went back to the drawing board and altered the proposal to suit better both the building and the clients requirements.
We recently carried out an interior design consultation following a flat refurbishment in Milan. The client loves colours and fabrics as she owns a children’s fashion store in Milan so we knew that we could implement some bright colours and clever details into certain spaces.
A typical Milanese apartment all the rooms are a good height. In the kitchen we added a splash of Churlish Green from Farrow and Ball, a yellow pigment based paint to add warmth and interest to the room and contrast with the white glossy cabinets. The colour sets off the kitchen with some added touches such as the matching decorated wallpaper. The open larder in the kitchen was screened using a tassel curtain creating a retro feeling to the space.
The main living areas were painted in Cord which is a yellow based neutral colour from Farrow and Ball. It is a traditional colour, but is strong and neutral in a room which is underlit. It has a calm, earthy base which works with any number of colours so it is perfect in this case to mix with both retro timber furniture and modern shelving fixed to the walls.
Setting plaster by Farrow and Ball was used in the main bedroom, the dusty tone of the paint results in a cosy, warm room. The walls have a soft blush appearance and look great with antique furniture and the soft hued linens in gold and dusk pink.
In the children’s bedroom the walls were painted in shaded white to give a simple background to the room as there were a number of objects that needed to be displayed and stored in the space. The colour gives the room a timeless feel and works well with the black decorated Chinese cabinet, bed canopy and toys.
The final colour palette not only gives a visual division between the spaces but also makes the apartment incredibly uplifting for the client.
The garden in our Norfolk project is set back from the road but still there comes a whoosh every five minutes from the cars driving past in the nearby road. We wanted to create a calmer environment with pockets of tranquillity. So, what is the best way to eradicate unwanted sounds in the garden? We investigated some ways to help relieve the ears from traffic noise and help us enjoy the garden.
Adding water features
The sound of moving water can be a relaxing addition to any garden and create a welcoming distraction. Sound can be created by creating a waterfall or using a fountain (differing scales will give varying results) from light splashing, gurgling or trickling to cascading and crashing into rocks. Not only a delight to look at water can disguise unwanted sounds.
Gurgling water fountain
2. Noisy plants
Plants themselves can make noise especially in particularly breezy sites. Our Norfolk site is surrounded by grass which creates waves of sound, giving a powerful but pleasing rustling. There are also a number of swaying shrubs like the Butterfly Bush (Buddleia davidii), Love-in-a-mist (Nigella damascena); that havedazzlingbright blue flowers which form puffy seed-heads that rattle when shaken, Japanese Silver grass (Micanthus oligostachyus) and Bamboo.
Love in a mist
Japanese Silver Grass
3. Plants that bring wildlife into your garden
Picking plants that attract both birds and insects will aid the concealment of sound. Nectar rich plants will attract pollinating insects and then birds will follow, so there will be a lot of acoustic activity from the birds chirping and the bees buzzing. Popular plants for insects are Honeysuckle (Lonicera), lavender (Lavandula), Japanese Anemone (Anemone hupehensis), Foxglove (Digitalis) and Paradise Joyce (Hosta hybrid cultivar paradise Joyce).
4. Underfoot noise
During the autumn months the leaves of deciduous plants will create a crunching sound underfoot , as will loose gravel/ shingles material laid in pathways. Stems of plants that edge and lie on pathways will rustle or snap when you brush past. All these elements should be considered as they form part of the layering of sounds within the garden.
5. Physical barrier
Using hedgerows or dense evergreens may be your first thought to ward off noise but even at a depth of 25-30ft evergreen will only reduce sound by 25%. A solid man-made barrier is much more effective. A brick wall or solid timber fence will reduce traffic noise significantly if it is at least 2 metres tall giving a 50% reduction in sound creating some relaxing pockets of tranquility in the garden.
There was so much activity this weekend at our Norfolk project, with cabinets being fitted, walls being plastered, new timber staircase being clad and the hanging of the hand blown glass light bowls in the roof space!
The new pendants highlight not just the height of the room but the unused roof space and midnight black trusses giving a twinkling yet warming effect. Each light positioned was to to serve a different function, the patatas (potato-shaped) to give a focused light and the sigeretta (cigarette-shaped) lights to cast a general light, all by Album lighting.
A solid plywood stair graces the floors with a sharp modern geometric twist. The stair is not directly fixed to the wall to give the illusion of it floating, this helps the solidity to be broken and an excuse to introduce lights from the underside to add drama!
Metallic Zellige black tiles form a mottled splashback to the upper kitchen area, creating memories of the water pools we saw in the grass areas of the marshland. Daily ever-changing reflections are formed on the tile’s surface with greens from the main garden and blues from the sky.
Downstairs the use of green Richlite doors (an eco friendly paper-based fibre composite) and golden oak carcusses of the storage cabinets are to remind the guest of the surrounding green marshes and golden grass lands. Thanks to Jack Trench for the doors and Joinex for the joinery pieces.
Finally the oiled hand carved oak wood floor gives character and interest to both ground and first floors. The feeling underfoot is rather like that of the dried salt marshes, which can be experienced in the numerous walks along the nearby coastal path.
Sensitively designed, all the finishes contribute to a property that not only relates to its function and appearance, but most heavily on its location.
We are so excited to be voted best Gardenista Professional UK Winner 2017 : Inspired by Africa, by Studio 29 Architects
Gardenista Professional UK Winner 2017
A beautiful article about our urban jungle garden inspired by Africa, which recently won the UK professional award.
The garden design is a lush, colourful space designed to remind the client of her childhood growing up in South Africa. Colour played a large part of the design , keeping warm hues throughout to make the garden appear welcoming even on the darkest of days. A combination of materials such as slate flooring, copper coloured mirror screening and galvanised steps all contribute to a mixed palette both raw and refined to give interest to the overall appearance.
For the publication please click on the link below:
We convinced the clients to demolish an ugly 80’s conservatory at the rear of their townhouse to reclaim space for a small sheltered garden. The private garden is linked to a large communal garden set in the centre of the Holland Park area. Inspired by the clients’ childhood spent in Kenya and South Africa, we designed a bold planting scheme and sculptural landscape.
A collection of gigantic ferns, slate and galvanised steel, terracotta painted walls and a bronze mirror formed an unusual and highly evocative palette. The luscious greenery is organised in a border with free standing planters, a green wall and a trellis -, the African inspired furniture and the small shed all set out a small but beautiful garden.To expand the planted area, one of the party wall has been kitted out with a green wall system. The planting scheme included heucheras, aromatics and trailing strawberries.
Solid sculptural slate steps appear to float above the main paved terrace, provide additional seating space and integrate with the powder coated bespoke planters. The steps then transform into a galvanised perforated steel sheet to contrast with the bright green of the ferns foliage and darkness of the slate.
Three full height sliding doors lead into the garden from the basement level.The black slim door frames, slate floor, black plastic chairs and black bespoke metal and timber table all create a graphic element and recede against the luscious surroundings to create a relaxing, protected environment.
If you live in the US and you like our garden then please vote for us by clicking the link below and clicking on vote!
We were lucky enough to be invited to Bari in Italy by Romagno Marmi to finalise some rare marbles for flooring and for the kitchen for the refurbishment of a large house located in Surrey.
Romagno Marmi are a traditional Italian marble company with seventy years of experience and passion. They source high quality stone to use for both construction and interior design. Romagno Marmi showed us around their warehouse, workshop and showroom. The selection of marble was beautiful with every colour imaginable. For the Surrey house refurbishment we are using a unique blue stone sourced from South America for the master bathroom suite in a line pattern, a warm grey white-veined and red-flecked marble for the kitchen island for the worktop and splashback. On the ground floor of the house in the main living areas we are using a rough brushed grey marble cut into diamond tiles with border to create a coherency between all the living areas.
After the trip we were also sent some photos of the quarries from which some of the stone is located. If you scale the stone steps against the trucks you suddenly realise the enormity of the landscape. It truly is incredible to remember where the marble originates from.
Thanks again to Vito and Antonio of Romagno Marmi and their incredible hospitality during our time with them!
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With the palette….
Armed with a selection of existing construction materials of course, such as bricks in terracotta, sandstone and chalk. We then started to create a palette, we love the unstable look of the metre thick flint walls wouldn’t the flint stones look great with sharp rendered borders to give a crisp edge to for the new openings?
Terracotta colour bricks can then be patterned in a way to achieve a beautiful almost woven-like texture in the floor which when combined with an underfloor heating system gives a cosy surface perfect in the chillier months.
And then the envelope…
The existing barn is pierced with vast swathes of glass originating from the 70s. Single glazed safety glass with spindly metal frames. We carried out a lot of research looking at a number of companies who produce glass for building conservation. The aim is to get an elegant slim frame with deep profile to provide a striking but strong outline and rhythm to the property. The look of the refined framing against the undulating flint and pan tiles gives a good contrast and a luxurious touch to a once working barn building with openings to the elements.
After a visit to Architect@work this year we happened upon Capoferri . An Italian window manufacturer who produces large glazed units with thin bronzed frames who have worked with the likes of Renzo Piano is some of the more remote areas of the US. Perfect for a coastal retreat.
The ceiling of the main space of the first floor is to be opened up. New timber trusses are to be introduced to give back the characteristic barn interior look. The repetitive pattern of the trusses will add structure for the large span roof and add interest to the space which has the most amazing view over the marshes. Investigating the design of the trusses, brings up a lot of questions – larch or green oak? , standard or scissor truss? modern or classic?. Looking at Japanese methods we might decide to incorporate complex jointing between the wood to give a elegant beauty (whilst avoiding any unnecessary steel) to the ceiling.
Old vs new, how to blend the two?
Bulging brick walls and perfectly linear concrete stair balustrades as shown in the Neues Museum in Berlin by David Chipperfield. The image shows well how a delicate intervention can work well, keeping the historic fabric intact, whilst adapting the building to accommodate new roles. We have to understand how to relate every old piece of building to the new. How to align new walls with bellying flint, how new framed doors and windows will sit in the deep stone walls pre-empting everything that a builder will encounter.
It’s an enjoyable ongoing process and we travel back to the East Coast tomorrow. We will report more when we start detailing the internal elements and materials, to create atmospheric relaxed spaces!
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