Hopkins House

Hampstead, London, United Kingdom 1976

The practice's Founding Partners' own house, built in an historic London conservation area.


Value: £20,000
Size: 240 m²


As well as a house, a studio was needed for the recently established architectural practice. The leafy street of Regency villas suggested the detached form of the building. Its footprint was defined by building restriction lines, leaving a 10m x 12m rectangle on two levels. From the front, however, the house appears to be single-storey, because the site is 2.5m below the road. The main entrance is at first-floor level across a footbridge, spanning a slope down to the garden level.

Construction techniques, being developed for larger commercial buildings, were used. A small-scale structural steel grid of 2 metres x 4 metres was chosen, which meant the components could be small and light.  Perimeter columns at 2 metre centres support the cladding and glazing, without sub-frames.  Metal decking for both the floor and roof is supported on a two-way grid of lattice trusses on freestanding columns. Side walls are of an insulated metal decking sandwich and front and back walls have full-height sliding glass doors, with no vertical frames.

The internal planning is open and flexible. Venetian blinds hanging between the internal columns define the various living functions, while prefabricated melamine partitions enclose the bedrooms and shower rooms. The two levels are connected by an open spiral staircase. The basic strategy and cost restraints have produced a building of simplicity and refinement.