Joining the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe, Unknown Works was formed in London five years ago. The studio’s Amethyst, a residential extension in London, showcases the practice’s playful yet thoughtful approach. 

Who: Unknown Works

Founded by a trio of co-directors, Ben Hayes, Kaowen Ho and Theo Games Petrohilos, Unknown Works is a dynamic London- and Hong Kong-based architecture practice that jumps with ease between scales, typologies and territories. Multidisciplinarity is the name of the game here for the three partners, who met and became friends when they were all studying at The Bartlett School of Architecture before setting up Unknown Works in 2017. Now, the team tackle anything from architecture, urban design and immersive events to exhibition design, installation art, graphics and digital media, from their east London base. 

‘Unknown Works is fascinated by the human condition, the development of cities, the interactions of social and urban environments and the mechanics of space distribution,’ say the trio. Their works reflect their fascinations, and include plenty of inventive, fun houses that balance the functional with the experimental, such as the bright yellow CLT House (pictured); prestigious exhibitions and cultural spaces (the team are currently hard at work on the Energy Revolution gallery for the Science Museum); Brightbox, a prototype for an off-grid interconnected classroom, clinic and community hub for communities that lack vital infrastructure in Uganda; and the award-winning Scotts Taikoo Li restaurant in Chengdu, China. 

Bright yellow London extension designed by architects Unknown Works

What: CLT House

Set in a sleepy east London road within a residential corner of Leyton, CLT House is a renovation and extension project that transforms a fairly modest mid-century terrace through sustainable architecture. The design, for a private client, makes extensive use of cross-laminated timber (CLT) construction, wrapping the interiors in warm, eco-friendly wood (which was fabricated off-site and assembled in a matter of days). At the same time, its exterior is painted a bright yellow, which marks a departure from the context’s norm, also clearly distinguishing between old and new. 

‘Amethyst considers how each element of a project can expose its true materiality, patina, method of fabrication and structural integrity,’ say the architects. ‘Every part of this family home has purpose and speaks honestly of its origin, coming together as a practical and flexible set of spaces.’ A staggered composition of structural planes ensures openings on the roof bring in plenty of natural light. Woodfibre insulation and a natural lime-render skin also play a key part in creating a sustainable and breathable family home. 

interior of bright yellow london extension, from inside looking out

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 22nd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – 20 young studios from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture. §

Interior of timber extension in east london house by Unknown Works
kitchen in an east london extension made of timber
timber and bright yellow colour enriches London house extension by Unknown Works architects