Forming part of a new-build development in Hackney, east London, the original rear-facing, ground-floor flat was dark, dull and cramped. Central to Merrett Houmøller Architects’ design concept was to strip the apartment back to its concrete and blockwork shell in order to reclaim the space and introduce character. The process involved straightening-out walls, as well as revealing electrics, builder’s marks and the occasional chalk ‘working out’.
The new 94-square-metre dwelling comprises a bedroom, flexible work/sleep room, and a large central living space. The latter is planned around a centrally located bespoke steel cube, which accommodates a galley kitchen, storage and services. The white-painted structure is flanked on two sides by the living room and dining area. Hit-and-miss stairs located at the rear of the cube lead to a deck area above.
A walnut-faced wall runs the length of the apartment, rationalising the plan and separating the private spaces from the open-plan social areas. Frameless doors concealed within the wall provide access to the bedrooms and bathrooms. At the west end of the plan, the timber wall hinges into a door that can be closed off to convert the open-plan office into a second private bedroom. The floors are finished in white resin, complementing the raw concrete walls and ceilings.
“Stripping the walls and ceiling back to the shell was essential to add character that never made it into the original new-build”, says practice director Peter Merrett. “Instead of plasterboarding over the beautiful concrete patina, we’ve revealed it throughout the flat, across the ceiling and walls. Its presence has introduced a contemporary vibe that wasn’t there before. It has also allowed us to reclaim depth and height that was previously hidden for no real reason.”