Going big in scale is not the only way to make a lasting impression, and the Haringey Brick House by Satish Jassal Architects is a prime example of a little house with a winning personality.
Shortlisted for the 2015 RIBA London Regional Awards for Architecture, the one-bedroom two-storey residence occupies a restrictive 3.6m x 11m end-of-terrace site, completing a row of Victorian terraces while asserting its modern character through a defining composition of shapes and materials.
Picking up on key elements of the surrounding Victorian architecture and creating an abstract interpretation of the nearby buildings' horizontal and vertical rhythms, Jassal worked with a palette of materials (brick, oak and antique brass), which improve over time. This way his design becomes 'both modern and antique', he says.
Materials play a key role in the design. Jassal drew inspiration from the work of German philosopher Martin Heidegger and in particular his 'Origin of the Work of Art' philosophy. Heidegger argues that 'earth' (nature) and the 'world' (human activity) are in a constant dialogue and it is from this relationship that 'the truth' can be revealed. Similar principles have been applied to the house's design, where natural materials are crafted together to produce a hub for human activity.
The dark brown, mottled, West Hoathly Sharpthorne brick façades are interspersed with sections of golden oak around doors and windows. The intricate carpentry continues inside the property, with bespoke integrated fixings supplied and fitted by Latvian carpenters. The handmade bricks are exposed on the ground floor interior, providing crafted, textural backgrounds to offset the pure white kitchen surfaces.
The design is immaculately detailed, aiming to gain the maximum potential from each material. For example, there are three varieties of brick bonding - accentuated by deeply recessed mortar - defining different zones throughout the home, whilst a microcosm of these patterns is also cleverly reproduced in the bathroom tiling.
It is these careful details and finishes which define the overall architecture of the house. Working with such a snug footprint, the interior furnishings had to adapt and fulfil multiple functions: the timber corner stair transforms into a seat, the entrance features a Louis Kahn-inspired wooden window seat with views onto cascading star jasmine planting, and outside, the front garden cleverly accommodates a bike store underneath a bench.
The 2.5m-tall ceilings and full height glazing and doorways also help create an illusion of space. 'We worked hard to make a small space feel large, but at the same time enclosed and carefully defined', says Jassal.