Designed for life: West Architecture transforms a former Methodist church
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A former Methodist church in Islington has been converted by West Architecture into a minimal live/work space for the founding director of The School of Life, Morgwn Rimel. Simple and functional adaptations were designed to release unused space and separate the living and working areas.
The renovation involved a dormer extension, the rebuilding of an existing mezzanine and an upgrade of all facilities, giving the double-height space a completely new life.
‘The large volume of the existing space made it perfect for the introduction of the mezzanine,’ says architect Graham West, who rebuilt a small existing mezzanine, opening up the ceiling to the room below. The simplicity of the exposed timber mezzanine, suspended from the roof on slender steel rods and reached by a folded steel-plate staircase floating just above the floor, became emblematic of the whole design: functional, minimal and stripped back.
Rimel became the owner of the property mid-way through the project, yet kept West Architecture on to help her create a space that reflected her design ethos and lifetsyle. ‘She was looking for something with an extremely high attention to detail and finish that was free from clutter and extraneous details. Somewhere without distractions for study, contemplation and recharging,’ says West.
Working with Rimel, West designed the new bedroom, which can be reached by another compact exposed timber stairway. ‘It works much better now as a place to work because of the introduction of the new bedroom – you can now isolate resting and working. Once you step over the threshold of the staircase and into the new room the you feel completely separated from daily tasks and work associated with the main space.’
Enclosed within a stressed skin plywood box, the bedroom becomes an independent sanctuary and echoes the design of the mezzanine level. Built with birch and spruce-faced plywood, the inner walls, floors, doors and architraves blend into a minimal panelled room.