White on white: Microarchitecture in London
Architect: Gianni Botsford Architects, London
Location: London, United Kingdom
Usable space: 8.3 m²
Civil engineering: TALL Engineers
Building services: Pearce and Associates
Contractor: Verona Construction
Landscape architect: Todd Longstaffe-Gowan
Lighting: Modular, Davide Groppi
Glass specialist: Cantifix
The tiny glass extension is practically indiscernible from the other side of the canal. The goal of the architects was to subordinate it to the main house by 'dematerialising' it into a practically invisible structure. Glass with a printed texture-like camouflaging effect helps disguise and veil the structure in subtle fashion, thus meeting the client's wish for an unimpeded view of the canal as well as visual privacy indoors.
In contrast to the unobtrusive and low-key appearance of the unframed, double-glazed extension, the interior of the tiny volume is all the more distinctive and striking in impression. Featuring a room programme that comprises a library 1 metre wide and 1.2 metres long and a study with a seating corner 2.3 by 2.7 metres in size, the whole structure is sunk into the ground, thus placing the top of the table at the same level as the garden for unusual views over the grass and flowers to the canal while at work. The roof is also glazed, featuring glass with a slight proportion of iron for maximum transparency and clarity and an uninterrupted view of the sky.
Inside the extension it is not the all-glazed facade alone that creates an impression of space, this also being achieved with smooth white surfaces that seamlessly cover the walls, ceiling areas and the floor. Fashioned in the same way, the furniture seems to project from the flat planes while the seating appears to continue over from the floor.
To obviate any feeling of sitting in a 'black box' at night and thus being visible from the outside, the glazed façade has equal interior and exterior lighting, with the light intensity balanced to an extent that the interior is invisible from the outside, thus transforming the glass façade into an "imaginary curtain in the night". In this unusual project Gianni Botsford Architects have demonstrated how the maximum in terms of living area and spatial quality can be achieved in a minimum of space. Thanks to their skilful wielding of materials, colour and well-thought-out furnishings, the interior of the practically invisible glass cube makes a surprisingly spacious impression.