City Living

Islington N1: very unusual, two-level site

This urban space in North London was a challenge, a modern house in the middle of Georgian style North London where the entrance to the lovely, airy, home is tucked behind a substation. The long, thin shape and extreme level change took some thought. Our task was to make it beautiful and practical for modern family life.

A 3m-deep well with 3 manhole covers! We disguised the manhole hatches with angled deck and elegant strips of aluminium, set in the hardwood surface. The client knows where they are but it just looks like decoration otherwise. Minimal planting and clever, dimmable LED lighting design, makes a real feature. Lovely concrete tiles that echo some at the back of the house make a stylish, quiet space.

This tall structure in the corner had to be made to cover phenomenally ugly old piles that we weren't allowed to remove. The planters have fascias to make them look much deeper; more impact, less weight. There's now a dramatic view from the walkway above. In time, the planters will be full of green and the Vinca will trail down the front of the planter.

On the upper level, we remodelled the glass balustrade by removing several sections to make more useable space. We created this wire fence, with a gate to access the planter. The planter links the upper and lower levels and makes an attractive barrier. The left edge of the walkway was open to the area below, but this was dangerous. We sealed it in and filled it with black gravel, which runs the length of the drive on either side.

Beyond the deck, the drive was laid with porcelain tiles. This space is decorated with soft, moveable lights and large, angular containers on wheels. This makes the whole space completely flexible which is what was asked for 'I have to say that the result far exceeded my expectations...'

The house itself was a great source of inspiration. The garden is a very long, thin space that originally had a sad pebble pool and waterfall that made the lower level very dank. You don't come across something like these support structures very often. We had to hide them and make sense of the space.