Ennismore Gardens House
This listed Victorian house in Knightsbridge is facing a large communal enclosed garden across the street. The renovation aims to bring into focus the relationship with these gardens and bring light into the previously dark interiors. They were stripped from all previous artificial finishes. The main feature became the entry condition: the kitchen was previously buried under a heavy stair. A mezzanine level above was to be converted as a study and guest room.
The intervention employed one material that could achieve these multiple programmatic configurations: perforated steel plate, painted white. For the project is bent, creates volumes, architectural elements yet retains the character of a light screen over its surroundings.
To create a visual continuity with the gardens outside, a “phytothèque” or plant wall was conceived: a series of geometric volumes interlocked. They function as planters, display for art, shelves and seating, inspired by Wardian cases.
The Wardian case was an early type of sealed protective container for plants. It found great use in the 19th century in protecting foreign plants imported to Europe from overseas and was invented by Dr. Nathaniel Bagshaw Ward of London, in 1829.
A gradual transition from the garden (plants) to the domestic (objects) is achieved in this sequence. In the entrance the existing checkerboard floor was to be retained, so all new elements were painted white to offset the strong contrast of the floor with the plants breaking the two-tone interior.
The perforated steel plate further continues as a stair element and allows light to flow into the small kitchen area, becoming almost invisible. As a new wall, in the mezzanine level above the kitchen, it is broken into operable shutters. When used as a guest room the closed shutters shield the interior from view of the entryway meanwhile bringing light in. When used as a study they open up to the entry and garden view outside.
Color in the living area is used to bring into focus historic details and create a dialogue with warmer tones on the furniture selection. The floor was stripped to reveal original flooring which was refinished. In the private areas, bedroom, dressing and bathroom, more subtle colors are employed again to create a play of texture and depth.
Scope: Renovation, Interior Design, Custom Furniture
Location: London, England
Photography: Nicholas Worley