It may look like little more than a tiny office from the street, but behind the unassuming door is an architecturally ambitious, underground home that will have design lovers in raptures.
The 'Hidden House' in Knightsbridge is a redevelopment of two former workshops and a retail space, spanning over 2,100 square feet. It hides three bedrooms and has been designed so that none of its fascinating features can be seen by passers-by.
LTS Architects were behind the project, which took 16 months to complete, at a cost of £1.9 million. Their biggest challenge was introducing natural light and space into the site which had never been used for residential living and could not be extended horizontally or vertically due to its constrained footprint. To tackle this, the architects had to create areas that would allow in light without compromising privacy from neighbours.
The key to their success was a pitched glazed roof, held together with laminated plywood beams, but this posed its own problem because the team had to work within the constraints of the historic and uneven brick walls. The beams were engineered to make the existing building appear balanced and symmetrical, resulting in a modern, reimagined space that eliminated a dark and dingy basement feel, defined the interior living areas and avoided being overlooked.
Oak, on-trend exposed brick and bronze lend the home a warm, natural aesthetic, while roof lights encourage light and air to flow through the L-shaped space.
There is an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space upstairs, a mezzanine-level study tucked within the roof pitch, while in the basement are two double bedrooms, and a master bedroom with en suite bathroom converted from two original arched pavement vaults.
The architects created a lightwell, partially covered with a glass floor, to guide light through the dining room and into the spaces beneath. The rear bedrooms are brightened by a sunken courtyard garden, which offers some outside space.
Greg Shannon, director at LTS Architects, described the project as "once in a lifetime" for everyone involved. "Despite appearances, we have completely rebuilt and restructured the existing building to design the Hidden House and create a truly unique home for the owners," he said. "We hope it sets a standard in design and demonstrates how we can make smaller homes beautiful and liveable by utilising space and light."