1137 townhouse with seven stories

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The project intervened in the structure of a seven-story townhouse for open space and light. Built in the 18th century and originally brought to life as a Victorian terraced house, the building is narrow and vertical; such qualities can lend an air of confinement to a structure and make divisions between floors feel stark. The storied nature of the townhouse might, too, be seen as a parallel to the dense and bustling city center in which it is located. Buildings of this sort are common in London, and the young couple living in this one was interested in challenging their home’s sense of spatial constraint and its original hierarchical division rooted in traditional domestic norms. One of many goals was to uncover fluidity by facing and playing with the verticality of the house and inviting qualities of light and openness to occupy more central roles in the space. Much of the building’s original envelope was maintained in the design approach to the transformation, with structural changes being primarily internal. The key to these internal updates lies in the presence of a new main staircase, which runs from the entrance level to the uppermost interior floor.

The newly installed ribbon staircase is made of white-painted, micro-perforated steel mesh and offers a drastic shift where the presence of natural light is concerned. Sunlight that enters through the southern windows is diffused through the stairway’s porous metal and reflected off of and emphasized by its white color.
Every floor has a different light condition, but all the floors have natural light to maximize the natural light on each floor. The insertion of the new stair allowed for the use of the stair shaft’s windows as a luminous element in communication with every floor and in dialogue between history and the new.” This main, continuous staircase not only offers a welcome brightness; in its steel materiality, it grounds the home, and in its vertical continuity, it makes a statement about its structural and aesthetic roles. As a fluid artery connecting the different functions of the five floors, the staircase adds an element of commonality that allows unfolding the kind of transgressive domesticity.

Location: London, United Kingdom
Area: 2370 sqf / 220 sm
Status: Realized, 2022
Design Team: Alessandro Orsini, Nick Roseboro, Jihye Son, Anna Laura Pinto
Structural Engineer: Format Engineers
Photography: Michael Vahrenwald/ESTO