Based in London and Bucharest VATRAA was commissioned to convert and extend the 67 square meter studio in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea into a bright four bedroom home.
The existing building, hemmed in on all sides, had an open ground floor and a mezzanine positioned under a partially glazed roof.
Its dense urban context required an innovative solution to increase floor space while introducing natural light into all spaces.
“The main challenge was adding four bedrooms to a windowless space, surrounded by neighbors on all four sides,” VATRAA explained.
“Capturing natural light in an introverted development became the main theme of the project.”
The interior of the studio was reconfigured and the building was extended four meters underground to create 77 square meters of additional floor space.
A skylight brings natural light to the lowered ground floor and a new basement level, while daylight entering through the glazed roof reaches the rooms below via a stairwell and openings in the floor slabs.
The bedrooms are housed in the insulated basement, while the ground floor houses an entrance hall, a meditation room and an office. The main living areas are located on the light and airy first floor.
The different functional areas are spread over the three floors of the house, with different uses of light and materials helping to give each space a unique character.
“By turning constraints into opportunities, we transformed an open-space studio into a journey of atmospheres, developed on contrasts such as dark-light, warm-cold or intimate-open,” the studio explained.
“Inspired by the clients’ interest in spirituality and meditation, we explored the spiritual quality of the space through views, light, and materials orchestrated in a simple, calm composition.”
The basement, which is the most intimate part of the house, contains two bedrooms and a bathroom arranged around the skylight.
Full-height openings with minimal wooden frames connect the rooms to an outdoor space, where there is a pebble-covered garden and carefully positioned plantings.
The semi-private spaces on the ground floor receive natural light from the skylight and from the upper floor. The office, meditation space and shower room are also configured to overlook the skylight.
A new staircase with a skylight above connects the three levels. The staircase is made of eight millimeter thick thin steel to help minimize disruption to the flow of light.
In the study, a glass wall provides a connection to the stairwell, while another skylight illuminates the room from above.
The open-plan living area on the first floor includes a kitchen, dining area and sloping roof lounge. Planning constraints required half of the glazed roof to be covered for privacy.
Interior finishes are designed to optimize the flow of daylight, while furnishings and fittings have been specified to create a sense of cohesion throughout the home.
The architects also worked with clients to develop 20 freestanding pieces of furniture. Custom made from solid oak and stainless steel, they are meant to complement the rough surfaces of the home including concrete flooring, plaster walls and wooden ceilings.
VATRAA was founded in 2018 by architects Anamaria Pircu and Bogdan Rusu. His work on the reconversion of the studio saw him shortlisted for the Don’t Move, Improve! competition.
The photograph is by VATRAA.