Brixton House

A compact house is transformed into an internal landscape of split levels with surprising long and tall spaces

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A long rooflight brings in daylight along the long kitchen and dining space


Inspired by a loved painting of an English seaside moment the project balances the urban density and vibrancy of Brixton with surprisingly open and quiet spaces. Rooms are arranged along split levels, each with a new quality, developing from the horizontal ground floor spaces into more vertical spaces in the middle and on to a 'tree house' room at the top.

Pictures by Andy Stagg

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The central room connects the traditional front of the house with the lower rear wing

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A paneled central pod links the rear part of the house with the tall central room


Conceived as an internal landscape of levels, a broad solid base connects the garden to the middle of the house and provides the main family space for daily activities. From this concrete base oak steps lead up into the more traditional lounge and seamlessly lead around a pod to the entrance and stair.

At the rear, the warm tones of the iroko paneling form the threshold to the courtyard and small garden beyond. A window seat provides a low view point while an over-sized roof light brings additional daylight deep into the space.

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The iroko window seat links up to the small courtyard and garden

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The house concept is inspired by a painting by the owner's grandfather. This painting beautifully captures the expansive scale and feel of English seaside with its subtle colour palette of greys and blues, with dark accents. This open feel contrasts with the urban density of Brixton and the owner's collection of African art, all to fit into a very compact house. The aim was to provide moments of relief from the compactness with long views both in plan and in section, creating surprisingly tall spaces and surprisingly long spaces. The middle room with its additional height mediates between the front lounge and the family area at the rear and this is the logical place for the painting. The subtle colour scheme of blues and greys follows up the stair to the upper split level rooms and on to the 'tree house' room in the loft.

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Moving up through the house the landscape develops into a vertical arrangement with branches to bedrooms at the split levels.

At the upper landing the stair splits further into a new direction leading upwards to the 'tree house' at the top, within a double-height space extending up to the roof.

An additional roof light provides light down these narrow spaces and creates a sense of arrival at the top.

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Our favourite part of the house is the bedroom at the top of the house:  how it hangs in the space - creating a surprising amount of drama in a small space; and how it manages to be both cool and fun - from the crazy alternate-step staircase to the “escape” hatch that turns a bedroom in to a tree house.


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Plans of ground floor, upper floor and tree house

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Long section

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Long section before works