The concept of a new ‘terraced’ house, squeezed into under-utilised brownfield sites that can enliven local communities and produce ‘homes’ which create opportunities rather than be dormitories or financial assets was an aspiration for Slip House. It has been designed as a flexible space that can be used as a single home, studio workspace and apartment.
Occupying one of four plots forming a gap in a typical Brixton terrace, Slip House creates a new prototype for adaptable terraced housing. Three simple ‘slipped’ orthogonal box forms break up the bulk of the building and give it its striking sculptural quality. The top floor is clad in milky, translucent glass planks, which continue past the roof deck to create a high level ‘sky garden’. Designed to Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5, it features ‘energy piles’ utilising a solar assisted ground source heat pump. PVs, a wildflower roof, rainwater harvesting, mechanical ventilation and an airtight envelope with massive levels of insulation make this one of the most energy efficient houses built in the UK.
The perimeter walls are load bearing, freeing up the internal areas of supporting columns. The house’s open-plan layout ensures that walls / dividers are simple to erect and require minimal construction effort. This aspect of Slip House is not only financially sustainable but also environmentally so, as it helps to ensure the permanence of the overall structure, as minimal modifications can allow the house to adapt to changing lives and living situations.
The house takes the idea of three slipped boxes. The boxes are carefully placed to maximise light and outlook from inside while not intruding on neighbour’s outlook. The shifting planes also break up the bulk of the building and give it its sculptural quality.
Slip House is draped with a translucent curtain of glass, and this is what the house has become identified with, but look a little closer and another equally crucial component emerges. This is the use of galvanized steel. The structure of the house is an engineered and braced steel frame. The design team have sought to expose and express this wherever possible, sometimes directly on view, or at times glimpsed through the glass panels. Rather than conceal the steel structure, structural sections have been carefully considered in terms of junction details and galvanized so that they can form exposed structural components, capping details, brackets and flashings.
Close to 100 bespoke galvanized bracket components were designed and fabricated to support the glazing system. One of the key aesthetic elements of the facade are the galvanized elephant grating grilles and balustrades. These were manufactured with differing spacing dependent on use and span. The galvanized finish of these components is conceived to work with the changing reflective qualities of the white glass panels and to give the building an industrial patina from day one.
Architect: Carl Turner Architects
Image: Tim Crocker