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A Periscope

A periscope, washed-up on the beach. The oceans must be full of them and yet this is quite unexpected: half buried with its ends poking out like a happy seaworm, chatting to its tail. The tides have washed it crystalline; mirrors bend the light to fill its buried chambers. A single sunlit passage, coursing through the sand.

There’s a particular joy derived from designing a small house well. In a dense urban pocket of Richmond, on a site of just 84m2, this one’s particularly small. The key challenges here were space, natural light and vertical circulation. Rather neatly, all three have been addressed with a single solution: the periscope.

A double-height void in the centre of the house defies constraint, lending a little luxury to the spaces that spill from it. Being on a narrow site, this ought to be the darkest part of the house and yet, a sky-window, the full-width of the property, inundates light like a sudden sun-shower. It is into this firmament that the staircase rises. Space, light and movement in a single gesture; a mirrored screen amplifies these effects, drawing views through the house, from both courtyard and sky.

Location  Richmond
Completed  2021
 
Details  See section
Photos  Tom Ross
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