Sarah Halford

Architecture and Ceramics

houses to live and work

studioKAP’s plot at the Scotland Housing Expo was occupied by a semidetached house. Two mirrored houses were turned 90 degrees to each other, so both entrances were off a courtyard. The vertical timber facades were painted a delightful colour, I think the girl ‘on duty’ to help explain the design called it ‘dusky grape’. The palisade continued over the large area of glazing over the entrance.

I liked the design so much because it took simple moves and just put them together elegantly. The woodburning stove was nicely set in the living area downstairs, with a small shelf next to it for logs. The kitchen was internal, you could walk through it, and it didn’t have a window. It was the only dark space in the house.

large versions of plans here and here

It was a feature of most of the houses at the Expo to have a bathroom, or at least a showeroom, on the ground floor. It’s pretty clear to see here that it’s a total waste of space, and you could fit two more kitchen units in there. It’s a feature of the Building Regs in Scotland that you must provide a space for a ‘future shower’ in all housing, on the accessible level. Most designers just put a dotted line around an area off the WC and label it, while it gets built as a much more useful storage space. Who needs a shower on the living level, if they can get up the stairs?

The bedrooms were not terribly big for doubles, I must say. They wouldn’t passHousing for Varying Needs standards anyway [which are a prerequsite for most Housing Associations] which stipulate room to walk around the bed, a dresser and wardrobe, with associated activity spaces. Apart from the size issue, the windows weren’t too enormous, which I think is a good thing. Some of teh house had gaping maws of windows from every room. Theer is also a sliding door between the master bedroom and a small mezzanine to the double height space, which is a very nice touch.

The extended portion of cladding was meant to lead to a two storey workshop with a bedroom over. I’m sort of pleased this hasn’t been built; in the images by the designers it looks quite huge and seems to overbalance the composition. A small structure over one storey, with a roller shutter would be my preference [and a gas supply. And a dry store. And a Clark sink.]

Although it is very small for a six person house, I think there are some clever touches here. It was very nicely detailed externally too, especially the lovely downpipes that tucked into the cladding.


3 comments on “houses to live and work

  1. Douglas Dalgleish
    September 2, 2010

    Hi Sarah,
    I share your admiration for the studioKAP house at the housing EXPO. For me it had a unique emotional quality as well as unexpected detailing. I explain why I liked this house at
    My only doubt about this house is it’s silly name.
    I also agree with you about the importance of home workshop space. Workspace is expensive to rent so some extra space for a kiln at home would be very useful. I believe that a ‘live/work studio’ is to be built in the garden of the studioKAP house.

    • sarahhalford
      September 3, 2010

      Hi Douglas,

      Interesting to read your views, and some great photos! The day we went was pretty overcast!

      One of the realy clever ideas that was used in a couple of the houses at the Expo was using the slope of the roof for extra storage space in the bedrooms, where a platform/mezzanine had been formed. In a child’s bedroom this would be ideal, especially in affordable housing, where ‘out of sight’ storage is preferable to additional furniture, which people might not be able to afford.

      I’m hoping to use this idea in a design I’m putting together for one of our more adventurous Association clients, hopefully they’ll look at it as innovative rather than an additional cost!

  2. Douglas Dalgleish
    September 3, 2010

    Hi Sarah,
    Yes I saw the elevated platforms in the Rural Design house. I was less enthusiastic about some other features of the building though. The curve at the foot of the stairway was interesting but uncomfortably narrow. Not too convenient for moving large items of furniture up the stair either. My visit was too brief really, with so much to see in so little time, but I concluded that the house would probably have been better if the architects had had a real client to impose more constraints. A building which sets out to use less energy should not be elevated above a windy pend as this one was. The external massing played a clever trick though, giving the impression of two separate buildings. Maybe this was a solution in search a problem.

    And isn’t glaze extraordinary stuff?

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This entry was posted on August 21, 2010 by in architecture.
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