Covert House has been much acclaimed in the architectural press of late. It offers a successful case study for good design despite difficult site demands – the house is mainly underground, restricted by a 3.5 meter height limit and huge boundary setbacks. But equally successful to my mind is the interior. There is too often an overwhelming gap between architecture and interior, with architects neglecting the interior for sake of the big architectural expression, and interior designers having little if any influence over the outside form. Here, the architect owners have embraced both.
Concrete is used outside and in in various forms – cast in situ, left raw, highly polished. In its unfinished state, it provides the perfect backdrop. The imperfections – discolouration and mottling – show the effort and craft involved in making the structure. Light abounds, via light wells and the white and light reflecting surfaces. The effect is elegant and light-handed and the resulting spaces appear calm and domiciliary. Furniture is mostly mid-century and there is a mix of timbers used in the furnishings, and a timber lined bathroom. The only soft surfaces appear to be the upholstery fabrics.
For me, concrete has always been the ultimate building material (more concrete inspiration, here). It can work very successfully in commercial interiors. Here, it is equally successful in a residential setting. What do you think? Would you live here?
Covert House by DHDSA, via The Architects’ Journal. Photographs: Christoffer Rudquist via
Another successful concrete house, here.