Man About Kew House!

Tell me... Who else is going around snooping into private homes this month in the name of London Festival of Architecture?! *waves hands in the air* US! ARCHiTRACKER has been on a snoop! 

Passing by what seems to be an ordinary, quiet, residential street in Richmond, set within the Kew Green Conservation area, you cannot miss this eccentric weathered perforated steel facade shouting out at you... and there it is - Kew House, one of the featured projects by Piercy&Co

At first glance, you can see the house is split into two to avoid being a large bulky volume, with pre-fabricated perforated weathered steel cladding units, connected by circulation encased in glazing. One unit is set partially behind the remnants of a Victorian stable, giving this elegant house a brilliant fuse of glass, steel and history.

Walking closer to the building, you begin to notice the perforated steel imitates the dappled light through the branches of trees. As we enter through the gates, on the left, is a sunken courtyard with a blooming tree, and downstairs... the floor to ceiling glazing reveals a basement of the family's playground. 

Kew House is a home for a family of four, with a simple informal layout of multiple level-changes, incidental spaces and accidental lights. The house is like a playground for the children! In actual fact, to access the basement, you can go via the steel staircase OR the slideeee! The space has swings AND a trampoline! Guess where my favourite space is! It also houses a workshop too! This floor is intended for flexibility and the potential to modify the space to suit the client's needs. Ie. temporary performance space for us!

This was also no ordinary visit or just the plain ole tour inside the building, there was entertainment involved! By Tim Ross and Kit Warhurst! They are a fantastic duo namely, 'Man about the house' from Australia, who performs in iconic, extraordinary and breathtaking architecturally designed houses or buildings and turn them into an intimate temporary performance space. What else is more engaging than learning about the building than with Stand-up comedy and music!?

With a short break, we are allowed to freely roam around the house, being cautious not to touch or break anything, however, we are given permission to chill on the sofas, walk around and talk to each other. (and grab yourself a bottle of beer!)

Beside the glass-encased staircase is the family's private courtyard, accessible from both wings of the house via the kitchen/dining room's double doors and half sunken living room on either ends, allowing a seamless transition from inside to out. 

And finally, the owner's bedrooms on the top floors on both wings of the house, each occupying a cosy corner, with natural daylight from the skylights, and light from the perforated steel cladding.

The two shells housing each wing are formed of 4mm thick weathering steel – a hardworking combination of structure and façade. The weathering steel is maintenance free, essential for the enclosed site, and softened by a patchwork of expressed welds and perforated panels. The deep orange tones and perforations within the skin echo the dappled light and autumnal palette of nearby Kew Gardens. Inside, oak veneer paneling and Dinesen flooring are the basis of a warm and natural material palette.

Piercy & Company are a renowned London-based practice founded in 2001. Part of a new generation of forward-thinking British architects, the studio prides itself on the practice of ‘designing through making’, utilising a digital fabrication centre and workshops to test new ideas. Collaborations with artists and makers continually invigorate the studio. The recently completed Clerkenwell office development, Turnmill, has just been awarded an RIBA National Award 2016.

The London Festival of Architecture is Europe’s biggest annual architecture festival, and returns to the capital from 1-30 June 2017 with hundreds of events exploring ‘memory’. We celebrate London as a global architectural hub, provoke questions about the life of the city, and promote positive change to its public realm. 

Let us know if you have visited any of the venues at LFA this year by emailing [email protected]! We'd love to hear your stories and which buildings you have visited! And you never know, we might bump into each other at an event! ;)

You don't need to go to Japan to visit Moriyama House!

This month we visited the exhibition 'The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945' at none other than at the Barbican Centre, in the middle of London's prominent post-war development of brutalism. London and Japan's approach to post-war architecture are definitely on opposite ends, we have agreed that it is much 'lighter' in Japan. What do you think? 

Don't expect this exhibition to be a conventional art gallery with only just 2D drawings, sketches and photographs, intricate yet minimalist models are indeed involved... and full scaled too!  

Japan is a country with distinct architecture of unique architectural styles, due to the culture and natural conditions of the country, the buildings are usually only built to last for one generation. You will find that there are never any massive public housing, but individual pre-fabricated homes as an experiment to adapt to change. However, they tend to share the common theme of being in touch with nature, and a sense of simplicity and lightness.

Here are our favourites at the exhibition: 

Moriyama House

A full-scaled reproduction of Moriyama House by the Pritzker winner Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA). You will also find a rather interesting and entertaining film filmed by Beka & Lemoine, (with comfy cushions on the floor!), interviewing Yasuo Moriyama, the 79-year-old owner and a hermit, whom has never left Japan, only living in his private universe at the Moriyama House. 

As we weaved in and out of the narrow courtyards between the houses, we can really feel the sense of orderly in intimate spaces. The windows of the house are large-scaled giving no sense of boundary or privacy (yes, we examined every nook and cranny as we imagined how the owner lives here, well the real house), the integration of the indoors to the outdoors are specifically designed for Moriyama to laze around doing his favourite activity - reading, and absorbing the nature. He even has sliding bookshelves so it saves space and are completely accessible. The Japanese really utilizes every square meter! (Even the space under the stairs were occupied with a table!)

Immersing you fully into the Japanese culture, "Please take your shoes off and place them inside the shoe rack" inside this beautifully crafted Tea House elevated on stilts above a surreal garden designed by Terunobu Fujimori. With an unusual whimsical outlook, the exterior is alternate bands of hand-charred timber and white plaster, the result is a counterpoint to the contemporary minimalism of the Moriyama House, emphasizing the importance of hand-made, the material, and the fantastical in Japanese design. 

Further into the exhibition, we explore key themes and movements in Japanese architecture through drawings, photographs, short films and smaller models. 

Lightness and lightweight materials have always been a key feature to Japanese architecture, a fine example is the NA house, with no internal walls, it maximizes the natural light. 

The exhibition is the first major UK exhibit that purely focuses on Japanese domestic architecture from the end of Second World War to now. Featuring over 40 Japanese architects from internationally renowned contemporary architects to figures that are less known to the outside of Japan.

Architectural exhibitions are always fascinating and an eye-opener, and the Japanese House did a great job presenting itself to the public with interactive spaces and story-telling!

The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945 at Barbican Art Gallery until 25 June. Tickets are £14.50 for adults, concessions available.

Architects featured: 

Takefumi Aida, Tadao Ando, Atelier Bow-Wow, Takamitsu Azuma, dot architects, Hiromi Fujii, Terunobu Fujimori, Sou Fujimoto, Itsuko Hasegawa, Go Hasegawa, Kiyoshi Ikebe, Ikimono Architects, Kumiko Inui, Junya Ishigami, Osamu Ishiyama, Toyo Ito, Yuusuke Karasawa, Kiyonori Kikutake, Chie Konno, Kisho Kurokawa, Kunio Maekawa, Makoto Masuzawa, Katsuhiro Miyamoto, Kiko Mozuna, Kazuhiko Namba, Hideyuki Nakayama, Ryue Nishizawa (SANAA), Katsuhiko Ohno, Keisuke Oka, onishimaki + hyakudayuki, Antonin Raymond, Junzo Sakakura, Kazunari Sakamoto, Kazuyo Sejima (SANAA), Kiyoshi Seike, Kazuo Shinohara, Seiichi Shirai, Kenzo Tange, Tezuka Architects, Riken Yamamoto, Kazumasa Yamashita, Junzo Yoshimura, Takamasa Yoshizaka.