LONDON – Inserting contemporary architecture into a conservation area can be challenging. Hayhurst and Co. accepted this challenge in designing a new building for Whitaker Malem, the artist and costume-maker duo behind works by Allen Jones, fashion designers Hussein Chalayan and Alexander McQueen and costumes for several films. The client built a workshop on a site in Hackney’s De Beauvoir conservation area back in the mid 1990s. Recent requirements for a home studio and gallery saw Hayhurst and Co. brought on board for assistance in designing additional space in a contemporary yet constrained and aged context. The architect has been working on reimagining existing building stock around the United Kingdom since 2004 and is well versed in moulding old structures into contemporary quality assemblages. The Garden House is their recent addition to an award-winning portfolio of replenished existing buildings and is in the running to add to the firm’s accolades.
Extending the existing structure, the architect decided to pop-up a roof to collect light, bend it to the boundaries for neighbourly consideration and cover it with thick leaf foliage. Due to the north facing orientation of the building, a vertical form and skylights are necessary to allow light to flood into the spaces. The shape of the roof creates an interesting internal volume for the studio, but, how the roof is made up is the selling point of this inner city development. Bespoke stainless steel bucket forms double as roof tiles and host an array of over 800 sedums and heathers set in beds of stone.
Rather than doing less than it set out to, the architect is looking to do more and thinks this sky garden could be a prototype for propagation, creating a series of inner city gardens. Images of bridges between roof tops come to mind, linking up to create a neighbourhood backyard walkway, maybe an alternative to another controversial garden yet to be built. The Sky Garden by Rafael Viñoly and the London Garden Bridge by Heatherwick Studio are projects that are promoted as public but act as private commercial outlets for a touring population. This small garden is private, however, the mass production of these truncated triangles could offer connection for local neighbourhoods. For the time being, this little example is certainly a nice addition to the area.
Photos courtesy of Hayhurst and Co./Killian O’Sullivan