South Stables

Studio Mackereth


This new build house sits within a mixed use development which encompasses two derelict Victorian brick-built stable buildings surrounding a cobbled courtyard, that originally accommodated horses transporting goods for The Midland Railway at nearby King's Cross. The front building, facing the street, was renovated to become a house and two floors of office space and approached via a cobbled walkway through a secret garden romantically planted to enhance the feeling of peace and nature's wilderness hidden from view. This brick facade retention with new build in steel and glass has become a five-bedroom 500 sq m house set back from the street. 

The new additions are designed to deliberately contrast with the existing Victorian brick arcaded podium from which they emerge using a reduced palette of two industrial materials . Blackened metal panels and cast glass combine as a simple 'skin' to the roofs and walls of the buildings to enhance the sculptural quality of this new monolithic form.

Bringing daylight and focal views of nature into the interiors in a way that is sensitive to Victorian buildings that were originally dark stables were the main design challenges of this dense urban site. The brief was to keep the industrial spirit of this dark functional barn-like volume yet consciously strive to introduce a clean element of modern architecture to this charming site whilst sensitively retaining the character and narrative of its previous life as a working stables. Hidden elements include a double curvature oculus open to the sky like a James Turrell aperture over the roof garden with exotic banana trees as a focus to the bedrooms; secret doors are concealed in dark panelling and hidden within pivoting brick walls, original 1870s timber rafters are reworked into joinery with cast iron columns and brackets and PV panels on the roof generate power. The house is rich in colour and contrasting materials and mood with intriguing Alice-in-Wonderland references to scale and elements of surprise. Dark Dickensian London meets Californian Lightbox. In the dining area dark brooding lacquered silver walls are offset by rich tapestry and illuminated by golden glass cherries; polished concrete floors have been inset with panels of rich end-grain oak and silk Fornasetti rugs; full height minimal sliding glass walls look over rough cobbles onto a crumbling brickwork arcade patinated with the original black bitumen from when it once served as a home for horses.

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