house of the year 2015.

Drawing on classical country houses and Palladio, with Mies van der Rohe restraint and order, and European style courtyards, this house sets a new English country house style, without turning to mid-century language to express itself. David Chipperfield’s Fayland house in Buckinghamshire is Architecture Review’s House of The Year. Better known for his commercial buildings, art galleries and retail stores, his architecture is all about restraint.

A loggia extends across the length of the building, enabling the main living spaces to face the expansive landscape. The floor plan is laid out enfilade, meaning all doors are laid out along a single axis, providing a vista through the entire suite of rooms. This is reminiscent of grand European houses, and a style we use a lot in retail store planning.

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The palette of materials is neutral and luxe – terrazzo floors, exposed concrete ceiling, white marble bathrooms and kitchen. The rooms are lined with the same brick inside and out. The bricks are white, laid with a lime mortar of a similar tone. The technique used – the mortar applied thickly then sponged off – leaves a residue creating a sfumato effect, giving a soft, homogenous look, far from the industrial look of a regular raw brick wall. The details are sublime with nothing extraneous – skirtings, architraves and cornices are not required where junctions between surfaces align with millimetre precision. Dark metal framed windows frame the view and save the palette from feeling anodyne.

What do you think of House of the Year?
Fayland House by David Chipperfield, via Architecture Review.

The RIBA have also announced their winners for 2015, here.

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villa altona.

Villa Altona is located on a dramatically sloping site in Sweden, with villas on one side and forest on the other. These site characteristics have clearly generated the form, placement and tones of the building. It is a bold, modern structure, with a low pitch roof, covered in sedum. Designed by The Common Office, it is considered one of Sweden’s most interesting buildings by the Swedish Association of Architects. And it’s for sale.

The interior is almost one continuous room, rising up over several levels, connected by a thinly profiled metal stair. At the top, a large, central retractable skylight (providing access to a roof terrace, of course), fills the interior with light and adds transparency to the building. Light abounds, with window walls everywhere. Family and private zones are separated, or not, with large sliding walls.

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Floor and roof slabs are concrete, cast in situ and left raw. Slender steel columns offer support.
A perforated metal floor gives an industrial feel, with the main floor of oak parquet. This is the least successful material to my mind: the sections of parquet too small for the scale of the building. Otherwise the materials are used boldly – stainless steel, mirror, brushed concrete.

What do you think?

Villa Altona, The Common Office, for sale here, via

happy weekend.

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LFA Pavilion by Hall McKnight architects, Lewis Cubitt Square. Photography: Ed Reeve

The annual London Festival of Architecture has begun: a celebration of architectural experimentation, thinking and practice, with lectures, exhibitions, student shows and tours. This year’s theme is Work in Progress, and for the first time, a new initiative is launched, a Focus Country. Ireland is the focus, with two pavilions – including this beautiful yellow one – in Kings Cross’ new public space, the Lewis Cubitt Square.

London Festival of Architecture, June 1- 30 2015, various venues around London. More, here, and a useful round up, architecturaldigest.com.

Happy weekend.

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house of concrete and corten.

Concrete is the predominant material used in this beautifully considered renovation in an otherwise archetypal Victorian terrace in West London.

Cast insitu and finely detailed, it is used for floors, walls and furniture elements. Forming a storage unit or bench, walls and plinths change level or quietly recede, accommodating the day-to-day activities of a family – eating, reading, playing – whilst blurring the traditional division of rooms. The boundary is further blurred between indoor and outdoor spaces with a large window seat projecting into the garden.

The facade is clad in Corten steel with its wonderful rusted, oxide patina. Inside, Grey Elm joinery,  pale walls and brass fixtures also soften the palette and add warmth to the cool, grey concrete.

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Moving up through he building, the existing structure and materials are allowed to coexist with the new. A palette of Douglas Fir floor boards, light coloured walls and exposed brickwork are the basis for a loft extension. A built-in desk extends the width of the study and becomes an open shelf as it wraps around the corner.

To me, this is the perfect solution for contemporary family living. What you think?

More Ingersoll Road by Mclaren Excell, here.

happy weekend.

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I love this image of a vertical garden, which could also read as a plan view; part of a mixed-use building in Japan by Kengo Kuma & Associates. The living facade is made of aluminium die-cast panels that serve as vertical planters. More, here.

More green inspiration on my pinterest board, here (I’m researching all things green for a current garden project in Brooklyn). And it’s Chelsea Flower Show time here in London.

Happy long weekend.

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mid century east.

Yesterday’s Mid Century East show at Erno Goldfinger’s marvellous Haggerston school was the usual trove of fabulous modernist finds. Apart from the pieces, what I love about the show is how everyone who attends is passionate about design. Dealers love what they do and love to talk about their wares. And, of course, the pieces themselves always come with a fascinating provenance.

A brief walk-through below, featuring just a few favourite pieces and their dealers; some known, others new.

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Mar-Den had the wonderful, on-end, angled brick wall as a backdrop in which to display, in the beautifully proportioned double-height space of the hall.

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Pink Flamingoes specialise in American design, and showed Eames classics in fabulous colours.

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Beton Brut specialise in architect-led design from post-War France, Italy, Netherlands and Scandinavia. I’m yet to visit their new showroom in East London but they have a very seductive  website in the meantime.

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Saunders Fine Art always tempt with their modern British and European art and also collectables.

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My favourite of the show was a pair of lounge chairs from the ‘50s, with a wonderful back-story, having been languishing with their original owners in the south of France until now. From The Kula.

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Lovely accessories at Fragile Design

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1934, named for Gerrit Rietveld’s ‘crate furniture’ series in 1934, has a tightly curated collection of simple, functional pieces.

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Gorgeous Vittorio Nobili Medea Chairs (and a few knock-out light fittings) at
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Dd you go? Any favourites? More mid-century show round-ups, here and here.

All images owl’s house london taken on my iPhone 5.

happy weekend.

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Flowering Potatoes, Dairy Drove, Ten Mile Bank, Aug 2014
Acrylic on panel
116 x 123cms

Vanishing Lines is a current exhibition by the Norfolk-based artist (and friend) Fred Ingrams.

Painting en plein air, Fred captures the flat marshland typical of the region in vivid and dramatic colour.

Vanishing Lines, Art Bermondsey 183-185 Bermondsey Street, London SE1 3UW
until Sunday 17th May 2015.

More images from the opening night on owl’s house london Instagram, here