Szczepaniak Teh completely changed a dark Victorian house in Islington, London. They removed walls and put in a special steel staircase in the middle of the house, making it a bright, peaceful haven.
Air House by Szczepaniak Teh
The Soho-based studio designed a unique airy staircase from one sheet of metal. It was inspired by the Clothworkers’ Company’s fabric architectural installations, like the artwork of Do Ho Suh.
The metal sheet was punctured with 3mm holes and curved like cloth. It is held up by twenty 2sq cm thin metal rods.
As you ascend the stairs, each tiny hole in the structure allows light to pour through the different levels of the three-storey house. This gives the feeling of walking on air, as forty percent of the staircase is literally made of air, not metal.
Climbing the stairs becomes an uplifting experience for both the mind and body.
The house was narrow and had awkward spaces. This was typical of homes in Islington’s Arlington Square Conservation Area.
It had an outdoor area that needed to be connected to the main floors.
Szczepaniak Teh’s client requested a more fluid layout and a better sense of connection between the different levels.
The studio removed walls to expand the area, making the steel frame the centerpiece. It runs through the floors and acts as the backbone, with the staircase taking on the role of the spine.
They paid extra attention to the blend of modern and classic details, highlighting the intentional cuts in the ornate skirting boards and cornices.
Szczepaniak Teh used thin perforated metal sheets instead of solid walls. This allowed the spaces to be visually and acoustically connected, making them appear larger.
The architects lowered the external back area to match the level of the lower ground floor. They added bifold doors that opened to a sunken Japanese-style courtyard.
This made the kitchen and dining area accessible from the outside.
They studied the sun’s movement to ensure that the courtyard and lower ground spaces were arranged in a way that allowed sunlight to enter during all the seasons.
The Air House features sliding doors on the lower ground level that separate an ensuite studio-bedroom. On the first level, the living and dining areas are located, with two extra bedrooms on the second floor.
A muted color palette throughout the house accentuates the monochromatic staircase and highlights the quality and color of the natural light that streams into the property.
The studio used ash offcuts from an industrial flooring company to create the parquet flooring and the steps leading down to the lower ground floor, as well as bespoke furniture.
The architects also upgraded the building’s fabric to improve its energy performance.
Szczepaniak Teh’s multi-sensory approach to architecture is seen in The Air House renovation project. Their projects often use light as a material – for example, in Chaps & Co barbershop in Dubai, where woodwork and dark glass interact with light to create a moody atmosphere.
Or in the L’Occitane store in London’s Regent Street, where the window installation of suspended glass lenses created the feel of Provence’s ‘golden hour’ in the heart of the city.
Szczepaniak Teh designs spaces that shift people’s moods and energize their senses. Even the most plain areas, such as staircases and corridors, can be transformed into an experience.
Climbing the stairs at The Air House will make you feel like you are floating in mid-air.
Even the smallest change in the weather will alter the light quality in the house, allowing the residents to stay connected to the outdoors.
- Contractors: Pro Home Construction
- Structural Engineers: Blue Engineering
- Planning Consultant: Planning Potential
- Approved Inspector: C2C
- Fire Consultant: FSECUK
- Kitchen: Kitchen Architecture
- Photography: Nicholas Worley
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