Curves in all the right places

An ar­chi­tect cou­ple’s dar­ing Sun Rain Room in north Lon­don scooped this year’s top Don’t Move, Im­prove! award. By Philippa Stock­ley

Evening Standard - West End Final Extra - ES Homes and Property - - Our Home -

TO CAL­CU­LATE the cur­va­ture for a su­per-slim ply­wood roof on their two- storey ex­ten­sion, Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu stood on lad­ders and sus­pended a roll of pa­per be­tween them. Their ex­per­i­ment back in 2005 demon­strated the nat­u­ral line, showed where the roof should start and how low it would drop. It was one of many tests the ar­chi­tect cou­ple car­ried out to en­sure the per­for­mance and beauty of their curl­ing, swirling, wa­ter- and sun-filled ex­tra space, with its curved glass walls.

No won­der the project, called Sun Rain Room, was de­clared this year’s over­all win­ner of New Lon­don Ar­chi­tec­ture’s pres­ti­gious Don’t Move, Im­prove! awards. The Royal In­sti­tute of Bri­tish Ar­chi­tects has al­ready crowned it the UK’s best listed build­ing ex­ten­sion. Set on the back of a five-storey Ge­or­gian town­house in Fins­bury, the whole amaz­ing thing sits atop a new ex­ten­sion to the ex­ist­ing base­ment, cre­at­ing a two-bed­room self-con­tained flat. Per­for­mance and beauty do in­deed go hand in hand here.

“We worked with three of the world’s best en­gi­neers,” says Tonkin. “And to test that the roof would sup­port three tons, we hung wa­ter- filled plas­tic bags from hooks, set a laser to see if anyt moved, and left it a few days.” ex­plains: “A litre of wa­ter weighs exa one kilo.” They de­signed the dou glazed walls around an ovoid court that fills with rain­wa­ter at the touch but­ton, mak­ing a shim­mer­ing, inch-d pool re­flect­ing house and sky. The cou

Win­ners: Mike Tonkin and Anna Liu in their cur­va­ceous cre­ation with their dog, Be

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