The clients brief in this invited competition was to design two apartments on the top floor of the existing Central London post office and Phillips de Pury art action house in Victoria, London. The client expressed a wish for large volume 'loft' spaces and asked for a contemporary design and the use of natural materials. Paul McAneary Architects' proposal won the competition with a design expressing natural tectonics through numerous new details, and even developing a new material type - which we named 'cast timber bronze'.
Since, the two apartments are built on top of the existing Central London post office, the postal delivery system has been the inspirational source of the concept design. Paul McAneary Architects responded to the brief by expressing and magnifying the 'post box component-concept-element' into large boxes of natural materials accommodating the private programme.
We placed three bedroom boxes within the large double height loft space, to provide rooms for sleeping accommodation: additional to the master bedroom and two further bedrooms, they accommodate for the master bedroom walk-in wardrobe, en-suite bathroom and a shared bathroom. In line with a more contemporary domesticity, the private programme area is relatively modest in size. The client expressed the desire to have a large versatile living space, perfect for relaxation and parties. As a result the living area is spacious and serves multipurpose events.
The overall architectural language is modest and dramatic at the same time: mixed timber tectonics have been applied with an emphasis on their texture and intrinsic beauty. The amount of 'vertical natural light' flooding through the large skylights, walk on glass and the 'horizontal curtain walling maximise the exquisite effect of the natural grain and pattern of the timber ceiling, oak beams and floor as well as the bronze 'timber texture'.
The 'boxes' of the Tex-Tonic House display natural textured materials. The thick, 'chunky '100mm x 200mm oak sections have been designed to express the depth of the sand blasted oak with an expressed 'finger' or 'comb' joining detail. The array of boxes is illuminated from below to bring out the natural texture of the material to the full. For the box in the centre we developed a new material, a cast bronze timber cladding. During the preparation process of the timber for the cast we brushed out the summer growth of the timber to articulate the maximum texture. Following this process the timber was burnt to remove the timber's hair. Following the cast of the bronze an acid solution treatment was applied to achieve a blackened bronze finish. Finally the ridges were brushed to create 'highlights', expressing the wood texture of the bronze.