Home and art gallery Maison Colbert is a London transformation story

Maison Colbert by Chris Dyson Architects reimagines a row of London houses into a single home and artist's gallery in the East End

Maison Colbert white gallery interior withcolourful art
(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

Maison Colbert, set in Spitalfields behind a discreet row of East End shopfronts, is the new family home, studio and gallery space for artists and filmmakers Philip and Charlotte Colbert. The project repurposes a semi-derelict terrace of five four-storey houses and transforms them into an interdisciplinary  programme of exhibition, production and home living spaces – all seamlessly interlocked through surgical design by Chris Dyson Architects.

Maison Colbert interior with busy decor and double height views

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

Touring Maison Colbert

Retaining the historic street façade of former shopfronts, the internal walls of the narrow houses have been removed to open the spaces up laterally. A 5m basement has been excavated to create the top-lit, 185 sq m gallery. At the back, the building has been extended to create new circulation and a light-filled garden atrium, topped by a glass pitched roof. 

triple height living space interior with art and planting at Maison Colbert in London

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

The result is a carefully curated experience of layered moments: both in terms of height, as areas of enclosure open up into spectacular double- and triple-height volumes, but also in length, as the entrance lobby leads on to a sitting room with the garden terrace visible through Crittall glass doors beyond. Forming a double-height space with high sash windows, this room is the heart of the building and extends across the footprint of three of the original houses.

Maison Colbert white gallery interior with artworks

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

This space anchors the plan. On one side, the original wall is exposed brick, on the other, a cantilevered mezzanine with a patinated metal balustrade gives access to the primary bedroom, bathroom, dressing room and study above via a sculptural metal staircase. The kitchen is in the adjoining space, separated by the dramatic hand-carved stone fireplace.  

minimalist staircase within white gallery interior at Maison Colbert

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

Throughout the interior, the focus on reuse continues to be a key driver. The building stands just beyond the site of London’s ancient city walls, and excavations uncovered evidence of London’s Roman past. This imposed a six-month delay, which the clients and architects embraced as an opportunity to engage with the site’s history, allowing the archaeological dig to inform some of the Romanesque interior details and relief plaster works.

minimalist white twisting staircase

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

Many of the fixtures of the former houses, such as original doors and retained fireplace surrounds, were recycled to breathe some of their old life into new interiors. Finishes such as the timber bedroom floors and tiles were retained, as well as various fittings and furniture pieces and bricks reclaimed from salvage, which were kept, cleaned and reused to patch up the rear façade.

Maison Colbert with green interiors and triple height ceilings

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)

With all these layers of history to respond to, the Colberts’ new home is an ideal setting for interdisciplinary experimentation; adding new layers of playfulness to the street and contributing to the creative and idiosyncratic energy of the East End.

busy planting in internal terrace at Maison Colbert in London

(Image credit: Edmund Sumner)