AR House 2013 Highly Commended: A diaphanous box of translucent glass emerges from Brixton’s brick courtyards as a flexible prototype for sustainable living and working
Amid the back lots and terraces of London’s Brixton, the Slip House is a conspicuous interloper. Based on the idea of ‘slipped’ boxes, its three floors are progressively slid and staggered to break up its bulk and optimise light and views. The upper floor and street frontage are wrapped in vertical planks of milkily translucent glass that veil and soften the cantilevered volumes. After dark, the translucent box glows seductively like a Chinese lantern.
But this is not simply an exercise in tasteful aesthetics. Inner London has many such unregarded gap sites, scraps of brownfield land that can often act as testbeds for new and more thoughtful kinds of development. Here, the aim is to create an ecologically conscious prototype for flexible living and working, a modern vision of living over the shop that could be adapted on a wider scale.
Currently being used as a design studio, the ground floor is conceived as a multi-purpose space. The upper floor is effectively the piano nobile, a single open-plan living area connected to a rooftop sky garden, with sleeping quarters on the intermediate first floor.
Architect Carl Turner sees the potential for a new kind of terraced house that allows the artisan or home worker to sublet or downsize. Such patterns of use enliven local communities and create opportunities, rather than the more usual scenario of a dwelling being seen simply as a dormitory or financial asset.
The Slip House’s ecological credentials are also impeccable, integrating measures such as rooftop photovoltaic panels, a ground source heat pump, rainwater harvesting, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and a highly-insulated building envelope. The energy performance of the house will be monitored over time and adjusted for effectiveness.
The jury was impressed by the ambition of the project to develop a house type that, while undoubtedly both formally sophisticated and environmentally responsive, also suggested a more engaged approach to dynamics of urban and domestic life.
Slip house, London
Architect: Carl Turner Architects
U-Glass panels: Glasfabrik Lamberts
Bathroom fittings: Vola
Photographs: Tim Crocker