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A Stable Relationship

A Stable Relationship
Words - Charlotte Brook
Photography - Ioana Marinescu

Thoroughbred horses used to live under this roof. Modest quarters for staff and steeds serving the grand villas of Victorian era Holland Park, the Grade II listed mews house was on the receiving end of a shonky 1970s makeover, and had latterly lost its way.

But now? Old, new, wood and light unite, and it’s beautiful. A kind of design gold dust happens when the archaic is restored, reconfigured or otherwise radically rebuilt anew – and anthropologist-turned-architect Jonathan Tuckey’s speciality is exactly that. Frame House, pictured here, is just one example. Folk meets the studio.

‘We enthusiastically embrace an architecture of change,’ Jonathan Tuckey Design says.

Under the London studio’s careful watch, bare bones of old buildings are gingerly wrenched, beautifully warped, twisted, reorganized and cajoled into a structure fit for modern use. Frame House, pictured, is a glorious example.

Reimagining the listed mews house meant restoring the front façade, pouring a red-pigmented concrete floor, cutting deeper lightwells into the roof and cladding walls in Douglas fir, which was inspired by the owner’s collection of plywood pieces by American 20th century minimalist Donald Judd.

Past, present, future; nuts, bolts, artwork. Architecture, alloyed. How did they do it?

We are interested in the idea of time. Many buildings will outlast our lifetime. After our involvement, they will take on a life of their own, adding and removing layers as we have done.

Interestingly, the owner of the house grew up in a minimalist, ‘all in white’ house designed by Claudio Silvestrin. The warmth and texture of Frame House was a conscious reaction to live in a space with warmth, texture and colour.

Frame House is an example of the way we ‘collage’ contemporary additions into an existing building. A mews house originally built to be stables, staff lodgings and workshops has been returned to its original purpose: it is a ‘stable’ for the owner’s collection of motorcycles, with a living area above.

The timber brings warmth to what was originally a working building. We liked the fact that Douglas Fir plywood is a utilitarian material; it is often used for forming concrete.

A simple material is elevated to something beautiful through craftsmanship.

Original exposed brickwork mixes with polished concrete, Birch and red pigmented plywood are some of the other materials used inside.

Even on a dull day the skylights, being south-facing, provide pools of light.

A memory and sense of the space’s history is provided by the first floor layout. It largely reflects the building’s original floor plan.

The furniture? There are 12 original Hans J Wegner CH24 Wishbone chairs, and the oak Arts and Crafts dining table is by legendary carpenter Robert Thompson, aka ‘The Mouseman’.

If a buildingpast’ and future are both legible in the current building, then that, to us, defines a successful re-design.

You could argue that the house feels British; we would argue that it is just appropriate.