Studio House Chelsea, London

A dilapidated stables with a 50s rear extension was converted into a studio / house for a painter and photographer. Apart from the rear extension and party walls the building was completely demolished and the street façade rebuilt with some revisions. The clients’ requirement for domestic and working spaces to co-exist while retaining their identity as rooms, together with the deep, enclosed site, contributed to the theme of a ‘house within a house’.

The study, darkroom, picture store and sitting-room were formed into an entrance group on two floors, disassociated from the old shell on two sides. The details to the old walls are traditional – a panelled front door, segmental brick arches, casement windows, and a double-height stained-glass south window. The details, windows, curved balcony and asymptotic junctions to the entrance building, on the other hand, use the language of modern architecture. Whereas the ground floor is occupied by specific functions with definite physical limits, the first floor is less functionally prescribed. Spatially, it explains the total site depth, with a slot of space projecting horizontally from the living-room through the higher volume of the studio to the kitchen and its courtyard and the quietude of the gardens beyond. The studio is formed by this exterior space and uses components traditionally associated with a painter’s studio – north light, gallery, spiral stair, large Belfast sink, store and flue and the existing floor (a memory of the old stable) made of large exterior quality tiles.

The existing rear wall to the studio contains the more private domestic functions (kitchen, bedroom / bathroom and gardens) and is connected by the gallery back to the entrance group. A small garden was created adjacent to the kitchen at first floor level by removing the roof.