Secret courtyards and skylights flood Paul Archer Design’s brick-built Aperture House with natural light
Aperture House by Paul Archer Design is conceived as a modern dwelling that nonetheless fits discreetly into its north London conservation area context. Sited on a restricted plot, the key challenge was to maintain a sense of privacy, while creating internal spaces filled with natural light. Both are achieved through a collection of skylights, large glazed doors and perforated brick openings.
The site was previously occupied by a domestic garage that was enclosed by brick walls, dating from different periods, along almost three-quarters of the boundary. Most of the original brickwork has been retained, with the masonry house inserted behind.
The ground floor and two courtyards – mostly hidden from the street – occupy the whole site. The first floor facade, which is visible from the street, relates directly to its neighbours and the urban context. Funton Old Chelsea Yellow brick with a Flemish-like bond is intended to evoke the predominant masonry language of the older neighbouring houses. New and old brickwork is separated by an aluminum shadow gap detail, clearly distinguishing loadbearing from ‘hung’ masonry.
Perforated brickwork with set-back glazing layers the facade in common with the surrounding houses. The brick perforations are intended to pick up on the rhythm of the surrounding Victorian windows, and suggest the floor levels and organisation of the two bedrooms and bathroom behind. They also provide a degree of privacy for the living spaces and produce a glowing pattern when backlit at night.
Natural light floods the open-plan spaces through floor-to-ceiling glazed doors – two at the entrance and another two leading to a courtyard at the rear. A rooflight is positioned directly over the oak staircase, with another running along most of the kitchen ceiling, bringing daylight to both floors.
The open-plan spaces are zoned with stepped level changes. The living space is three-metres high, making it feel generous and airy, despite being enclosed by the boundary wall. Built-in storage is hidden away under the stepped ground floor.