A collaboration with the artist Richard Woods
Status: Completed 2013
WoodBlock House is an artist’s home and studio in Hackney, London. Built completely from timber and glass, it is a colourful experiment in prefabricated, carbon-hoarding architecture.
CollaboratorsMain Contractor Cape Construction
Cost Consultant David Flower
Structural Engineer Timber First
M&E Consultant Michael Popper Associates
Approves Inspector London Building Control
Our brief was to create a studio, home and office for British artist Richards Woods and his family.
The site was an inner-city gap site that had come to be used as an unofficial tyre-fitting business.
As well as domestic spaces, Woods also required a large-scale printing workshop for him and his studio employees to create his iconic, graphic pieces. The workshop space neded an open yard at ground level to ensure good ventilation and ease of access.
Woods’ work traverses the boundaries between art, architecture and furniture design in the interplay between the functional and the ornamental. From the start, designs evolved through a genuine collaboration between architect and client.
A workshop and printing studio on the ground floor, with separate living accommodation above, are characterised by tactile timber, generous space and ample daylight.
The domestic part of the building is south-facing and sits on top of the north-facing studio. The house section is clad in screen printed plywood whilst the studio is clad in unpainted larch.
Simple, generous windows have been used throughout. Full height, sliding windows are used in principal living areas and smaller ‘punched hole’ windows to secondary living spaces such as bedrooms and circulation.
WoodBlock House is both a response to a family’s needs and a reflection of our commitment to sustainability through the use of engineered timber.
The cross-laminated timber (CLT) used on WoodBlock House is produced from timber that is sustainably managed in northern Europe. More carbon dioxide is absorbed through the lifetime of the trees used than expended through manufacture, delivery and installation, making it a truly ‘carbon positive’ construction method.
WoodBlock House is heated through the use of an air source heat pump, although the family hardly use it thanks to excellent insulation in the building fabric combined with a wood burning stove. Solar thermal panels on the roof heat water for domestic use.
The studio space has been kept simple, so as to be adaptable to different uses in future, such as a shop or other type of business.
The house gives back to the street with its colourful, printed façade; artwork for passers-by to enjoy.
Apart from being environmentally sound, WoodBlock House has a warmth and tactility thanks to its extensive use of timber, inside and out. Perhaps its greatest success lies in something even more intangible: the feeling of a building that provides joy to its occupants; a home brought to life through the combination of family, work and play.
Nestled snugly between its neighbouring materials of brick and concrete, WoodBlock House adds new visual and tactile expression to the fabric of London. The project is a modest manifesto for engineered timber and mixed-use; for economy and for colour.
The project is a modest manifesto for engineered timber and mixed-use, for economy and for colour.
Insight: Alex de Rijke
I liked the idea of creating a wooden house in the middle of town.