The be­spoke house

Hand­crafted de­tails and qual­ity ma­te­ri­als make this stun­ning new-build home in Blooms­bury a RIBA award win­ner

ELLE Decoration (UK) - - Elle Decoration -

Take a look in­side a RIBA award-win­ning new-build and read the ar­chi­tect’s guide to cre­at­ing some­thing unique

Any­one who watched last year’s Chan­nel 4 tele­vi­sion se­ries Grand De­signs: RIBA House of the Year will re­call this short­listed bronze-and-brick house in Lon­don’s Blooms­bury. It be­longs to ho­tel con­sul­tant Peter Zen­neck and his part­ner Troels Levring, a for­mer ar­chi­tect-turned-de­vel­oper. The pair were think­ing of buy­ing a tra­di­tional Ge­or­gian prop­erty nearby when they spot­ted a car-re­pair garage with plan­ning per­mis­sion to be con­verted into four flats for sale.

‘ We con­tacted the plan­ner to en­sure that we would be able to ob­tain per­mis­sion to build just one house on the land, then put in a sealed bid,’ Troels says. ‘It’s such a glo­ri­ous spot. A lot of sites in Lon­don are be­tween two prop­er­ties, but here the house feels de­tached be­cause it’s on a cor­ner.’ In 2008 the cou­ple com­mis­sioned their friend and ar­chi­tect Jamie Fobert to work on the five-year project and, from the be­gin­ning, they formed a close col­lab­o­ra­tive team. ‘The ar­chi­tec­ture was all Jamie, but we pushed for a few things – a lazy client and ar­chi­tect does not make a good build­ing,’ Troels says. ‘Hav­ing a rap­port with Jamie raised the bar.’

A glance at the spec­i­fi­ca­tions for the 450-square-me­tre, four-floor house re­veals why it was named a 2015 RIBA Na­tional Award Win­ner. From the façade of nar­row, hand­made, honey-hued Dan­ish bricks that re­veal the thumbprints of the crafts­peo­ple that made them, to the dove­tailed cor­ner of the ex­te­rior wall and the gleam­ing bronze roof, the beauty of this house is all in the de­tails. In­side, con­crete ceil­ings, walls and pil­lars serve as the back­bone of the build­ing and con­nect the dou­ble-height spa­ces that sur­round a cen­tral glass-en­cased lightwell. ‘Hav­ing so much day­light is the big­gest lux­ury of this house,’ says Troels.

It’s not just the lay­out that is be­spoke, though. The oak stair­case in the cor­ner of the open-plan house has a car­bonised steel banis­ter in­spired by an art­work by Span­ish sculp­tor Ed­uardo Chill­ida (a favourite of both the ar­chi­tect and the own­ers) and the trio trav­elled to Italy just to un­der­stand how dif­fer­ent grades of Car­rara mar­ble might be used in the bath­room. Peter and Troels both work at home, with one of­fice up­stairs and the other down­stairs. Troels’ study fea­tures spe­cially made geo­met­ric win­dow shut­ters di­vided into dif­fer­ent sized sec­tions, all of which open in­di­vid­u­ally. Like func­tional works of art, they can be opened in many con­fig­u­ra­tions to pro­vide light or pri­vacy. ‘I wanted the shut­ters in my study to be translu­cent, so we ended up de­sign­ing a kind of Ja­panese shoji screen,’ says Troels. ‘The chil­dren from the nearby school like them; if I slide the main sec­tion open, they wave as they walk past.’

The cou­ple have lunch in the kitchen or on one of the ter­races and en­joy go­ing for a swim in their very own lux­u­ri­ous mar­ble-clad 14-me­tre in­door pool, which is sit­u­ated in the base­ment. ‘ We imag­ined us­ing the pool mostly in the morn­ing, but we ac­tu­ally take a dip around 5pm, at cock­tail hour,’ says Peter. ‘It’s a great way to end the work­ing day.’

The beauty of this house is all in the de­tails. The car­bonised steel banis­ter is in­spired by the work of Span­ish artist Ed­uardo Chill­ida

‘ We de­signed the house in lay­ers, adding be­spoke join­ery as we went and en­sur­ing there was the max­i­mum amount of stor­age’

Stockist de­tails on p290

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