David Adjaye is well-known for his recent string of public works, like the Stephen Lawrence Centre, Rivington Street and the Whitechapel and Chrisp Market Idea Stores, but he undoubtedly first attracted the spotlight through his early residential commissions, having since designed houses for artists and actors like Tim Noble and Sue Webster, Chris Ofili and Ewan McGregor.
One of his latest residential projects, the Sunken House – also known affectionately as Ed’s Shed – was a commission by photographer Ed Reeve, completed in 2007.
The beautifully minimal house, a simple cube located in the conservation area of De Beauvoir town in London’s Hackney, certainly stands out among the area’s more traditional builds.
The solid timber structure was partly prefabricated and features three floors; an excavated concrete lower ground floor, where the house sits, including a sunken patio, kitchen and dining area, the ground floor bedrooms and a top level bright living area. The wood prefab element, not only kept the construction costs lower than usual, but it also limited the on-site construction programme to an amazing approximate one week.
The timber rainscreen, cladding the house from all sides, gives the impression of a continuous skin, enveloping harmoniously the structure in soft dark-stained cedar. Lit mainly through long horizontal and vertical openings on the upper floors and the courtyard opening on lower ground, the house is as clean and minimal inside, as it looks from the outside; a mysterious perfect wooden box, peeping through the traditional low brick wall garden fence.
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Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture Editor at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018) and Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020).
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