Luker House, a striking brick house wedged into a difficult site in Barnes village near London, by Jamie Fobert Architects, has been selected for the 2014 RIBA Manser Medal shortlist, the UKâs most prestigious housing design award.
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“This beautiful house is an essay in how to transform a totally unpromising site into something poetic and memorable. Sited in backlands with the prospect of new development overlooking the site, the design makes a merit of developing a one-sided relationship to a sequence of external spaces. It is difficult to evoke the quality of visual refinement within this building. Wherever you look there are combinations of planes, surfaces and light of unusual quality. A huge horizontal opening connects the kitchen and dining room to the garden, the whole window opening and disappearing against the adjacent wall. The plan and section have an unexpected geometry, a kind of stretching out of forms and shapes that plays games with the orthogonal.
The house is for a services engineer who played a part in the construction process, installing all the services himself with the assistance of his wife. The client acted as project manager and the architect came to site whenever wanted. They both speak of a very happy relationship and there is no doubt that the client is delighted with the outcome. Everything is finished to an exceptionally high standard with inventive details round the kitchen, including a beautiful stainless steel work table. The policy to keep family heirloom furniture, rather than finding new modern pieces, pays off in setting up a contrast between refined modern space and more sculpted traditional furniture.
There is a self-build aspect to this project which means that it will continue to develop over time, with an additional live or work unit and a bedroom still to be fitted out. However, what has been built stands entirely by itself as a distinguished architectural proposition. The garden is also evolving with a water feature in process of installation. With its simple brick exterior, refined windows, concrete and timber floors, concrete and plaster walls, the whole project is expressive of care and craftsmanship throughout.”