How Remi Connolly-taylor’s minimalist build maximises space to perfection
Tucked away on an unassuming street, within a quiet residential pocket off the beaten track in east London, Remi Connolly-taylor’s first new build cuts a distinctly contemporary figure. Marking the end of a residential terrace, the bold structure feels at once modern and respectful to the low Victorian housing it sits next to. Maryland House, named after its namesake neighbourhood in Stratford, is a highly tailored live/work space, designed precisely for the needs of its dynamic creator and her young business.
The site presented a number of opportunities to the architect. ‘We were attracted to the location, particularly being close to the well-connected and developing hub of Stratford,’ says Connolly-taylor.
Its small footprint (a mere 76.5 sq m) meant ‘we knew the house had no choice but to be different and unique. We were excited by the possibilities of how far we could push the envelope (both physical and theoretical) to accommodate modern lifestyles that weren’t currently being reflected in the borough.’
According to Connolly-taylor, infill sites offer exciting development opportunities for architects, a view that is shared by many studios in the capital, who seek land for housing projects and increasingly end up building in neglected, awkward-sized plots, back gardens and redeveloped garage sites.
The Maryland House site used to be a small, empty lot filled with rubbish and debris from surrounding construction. Now, it holds a two-level home with a studio on top, and is clad in London stock brick that mirrors the surrounding materials and colour tones of the neighbourhood’s mix of Victorian and post-war housing. With only 100 sq m of internal space, size played a key role in design decisions. ‘Maryland House was designed around what we could and couldn’t do,’ says Connolly-taylor. Working with local manufacturers and craftsmen, the project developed into a jewel box of a home, ticking all the boxes for efficiency, functionality, spaciousness and a clean, fairly minimalist aesthetic.
The ground floor contains the master bedroom suite and a guest room, while the residence’s main living space unfolds beneath, in a majestic lower level that makes you forget you are partially underground. Tall ceilings (following a 4m dig) and polished concrete floors lend a sense of grandeur to the open-plan kitchen, dining and living room within. These spill out into a small but carefully curated courtyard that also acts as a light well. A utility room and bathroom are slotted in off the bespoke kitchen that is still to come. The descent to the lower level is via a slim, red, custom-fitted, 4mm steel plate staircase, made without any stringers and seemingly hovering weightlessly between floors. The minimalist feature is one of several bespoke fittings, designed with the unusually compact interiors in mind.
Connolly-taylor’s home office on the first floor is bijou but functional and filled with light. A rear terrace connects it to the outdoors and offers framed views onto foliage and the Stratford Hotel. This workspace was, in fact, key to the whole project’s development, explains the architect: ‘It was about coming up with a new solution for workspace within the home. It needed to feel like an inspiring space to want to go to, and that allowed for flexibility. Positioning it on the first floor allowed it to be this sort of light box, but doing so also turned the traditional
“hierarchy” of a home upside down. I spend a lot of time working from home (pre-covid and especially now), so it was important that this space be inspiring and transformable. It was also important for it to feel like you’re entering into a new space within the home, to have that mental separation of work and home life for wellbeing.’ Her favourite space? ‘It’s a toss-up between the studio space and the basement,’ she says.
Connolly-taylor’s practice, Remi.c.t Studio, was founded in 2017. With a main base in Hackney Wick’s Here East, she and her small, six-strong team have applied their cross-disciplinary expertise to commercial fit-outs, placemaking projects, and artist studios. In the pipeline are a series of infill houses around London, a historical house restoration and extension in Reading, and a series of international schemes that span commercial and hospitality. ‘We also have an ongoing research project we’re hoping to turn into an exhibition once Covid is over,’ adds Connolly-taylor, who can now add an original, thoughtfully appointed home to her budding portfolio. *
‘We knew the house had no choice but to be different and unique. We were excited by how far we could push the envelope’