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Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

Project: Tsubo Niwa House
Architects: Fraher and Findlay
Location: Hackney, London, United Kingdom
Photo Credits: Adam Scott
Text by Fraher and Findlay

Tsubo Niwa House is a Victorian large single family dwelling situated in Hackney. The client were the founders of Studio XAG. From the very beginning, the project was about refurbishing and extending the house whilst injecting the Clients creative personalities as designers and makers themselves.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The building had fallen into a state of disrepair and was in need of full refurbishment. Works included a loft, rear and side infill extension. A set of living spaces at lower ground floor level were used as additional accommodation for visiting family, it was important for these to be connected to the main house above.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The design response looked to introduce a courtyard within the plan of the living spaces to help articulate a relationship between the existing house and the new architecture.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The rear extension sits quietly at the back of the building with a flush threshold connection with the garden. The pop up wrap around window seat provides some extra head height to the kitchen and aligns the view between the original reception rooms, Tsubo, kitchen and garden.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The kitchen level was lowered in order for it to act as a mid way level between the ground and lower ground floor levels of the existing house. This helps to connect all the living levels of the house.

kitchen by Fraher and Findlay

We wanted an external environment to act as a pivot point between the spaces, whilst acting as an environmental tool to bring in lots of natural light and to aid natural ventilation.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

Our research led us to the use of a Tsubo Niwa in Japanese design. A Tsubo Niwa is an external space, entirely enclosed by rooms or garden walls. It is integrally connected with the architecture and life going on inside, becoming a part of one’s daily life. Always present, throughout the day and throughout the year.

kitchen by Fraher and Findlay

Tsubo means ‘an area equal to two tatami mats (3.3sqm)’ and so is very small. However within this space we can capture soft light, the pattering of rain on leaves, a sweet smell of the planting.

dining space by Fraher and Findlay

It feels like a quite force – providing life energy to the Tsubo Niwa House – it is visible from all the rooms in the house with the exception of two bedrooms and one bathroom.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

Full height windows slide back behind a slatted black cladding, providing a layering to the back of the building. A green roof elevates the garden level up towards the baby’s bedroom – topping the sharp black extension with a hairy hat.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The internal spaces were to feel textured, calm and lived in – as such a raw plaster finish was used to reflect the softness of the Tsubo Niwa House. Movement can be seen across the walls and imperfections celebrated.

bathroom by Fraher and Findlay

The original period detailing such as the cornice, skirting and ceiling roses were carefully stripped back to remove decades of repainting. Fixtures and fittings were partly salvaged through ebay finds as well as commissioning bespoke elements such as the joinery.

suite by Fraher and Findlay

Monochrome graphics are represented in the tile choices and patterns within the bathrooms as well as the artwork on the walls. The staircase up to the loft extension has natural light flooding in from above – stretching out the previously dark Victorian stairwell.

Tsubo Niwa House by Fraher and Findlay

The staircase balustrade was designed to sensitively depart from the original staircase balustrade – stretching up towards the new floor of the house.

bedroom by Fraher and Findlay

bathroom by Fraher and Findlay

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