Keith Williams’ radical new house in St John’s Wood, London

14 Sep 2007

A 720sq m contemporary family house in a mature Conservation Area is a rare event in London.

The Long House has been conceived as a “secret dwelling”, screened from the outside world. Much of it is single storey, in sharp contrast to typical, vertically stacked 4 or 5 storey London houses. Its flank to the outside world is formed by the rebuilt, single storey boundary wall. Above, a clerestorey glazed strip and zinc vault form the garden wing over a toplit, subterranean swimming pool. The much smaller upper portions of the house are formed of simple blank façades deployed along the top of the wall echoing the volumes of the earlier buildings. Facing the garden, the elevations open out in a freer and more transparent way, beginning to dissolve the relationship between inside and out.
The form of the house has been determined by careful integration of the new masses with the scale and form of the existing adjoining houses.
The 49m long house comprises living and dining spaces, a subterranean lap pool, 4 main bedrooms, and guest and maid’s wing and garaging for 2 cars.

The Long House has made it through to the shortlist of six houses for the WAN House of the Year 2007 award. One of these six houses will be named the overall winner next Friday 15 February.

The jury's comment:
A large luxurious ‘L’-shaped house hidden by a historic wall on a triangular site creating a secluded courtyard garden. The judges recognized the sophisticated and skillful take on the modernist style, the satisfying calm and balanced composition and the attention to detail. They admired the achievement of such a contemporary architecture within a historic area in the UK. They felt, however, that the formula for the layout was heavily prompted by the site and the expressed generosity and attention to detail was an enjoyable indulgence rather than a great challenge.

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