Stanhope Gardens

Title: Stanhope Gardens 
Location: London, United Kingdom
Office: Architecture Project London
Authors: Ephraim Joris, Riet Eeckhout
Category: Personal Places
Video: Kyveli Anastasiadi
Photos: Sakiko Kohashi and AP

In 2014 the renovation of a 180 sqm, 3-floor apartment in a grade II listed building at Stanhope Gardens was completed. The interiors as presented by our client had entered a state of neglect and despair. Since most of the interior had been damaged by unpleasant renovations over time, the first action constituted a gentle reconstruction of the Victorian language to reiterate the correspondence between a pervious culture and its architecture. The predominant in-white reconstruction acknowledges the theatricality of such outcome. Newly designed program – such as kitchen, toilet, storage, etc. – was conceived as one large autonomous object. We call it a ‘super furniture’. This strange object aims at instilling a space of critical displacement. This happens on two levels. On a discrete level, the ‘super furniture’ acts as a diagram communicating a geometry freed from archetypical clichés. On a more interconnected level, it stands aesthetically distant from the reconstructed surroundings even though its form is a result of reacting to site-specific parameters.

As architects we travel the edges of a client’s brief yet every so often we wander even further. We craft intersections between various depictions of reality, something we all did as a child to nurture our capacity to give meaning to an empirical world. Such experimentation is aimed at re-evaluating the cultural implications of the forms we create. In everyday life a given form, such as a cupboard, allows us to establish connections between the object and its embedded meaning. With the design of this ‘super furniture’ we temporarily break the makeup of such connections to allow users to reconfigure new associations and thus construct new meaning. Its geometry as an unusual volume wants to challenge existing typologies to allow the visiting body to re-adjust. Recounting Classical Antiquity, we believe the material presence of this project holds qualities of temporality and decay for it is the immaterial world of human experience to engender qualities of timelessness and continuance. Our thinking about this domestic interior, this immaterial dream, can thus exist outside the uncertain presence of our material world. We want to make it very clear for the act of design to have a duty to contribute to the immaterial idea of space; that what can only be experienced as lived space.