Architect: Adjaye Associates
Clerkenwell Close, London EC1
Designed by the internationally acclaimed architect David Adjaye, this breathtaking modern house occupies one of Clerkenwell’s finest locations, quietly overlooking St James’s Church. The interior is flexible, and measures approximately 2,781 sq ft over five storeys.
Adjaye has reappropriated and extended an existing brick warehouse, adding huge amounts of glazing to maximise the natural light. The building is known as Fog House because of the diffused light that enters through a wall of sandblasted glass on the top floor. It has live/work use, and was the studio of the artist Marc Quinn prior to its conversion.
The client’s brief was for total privacy, and the front door to the house is on a pedestrianised cul de sac. Entering provides an immediate sense of drama, revealing a double-height space with a galleried study and a library on a steel gantry. Below is a reception room, which has an adjacent wet room and could be used as guest accommodation or as a studio. There is also a garage on the ground floor.
Each of the three storeys above is largely open-plan, to create a sense of arrival and provide an immediate connection with the church opposite. The first floor is currently used as an office, but could be a bedroom. It has full-height glazing onto a large covered terrace, and bespoke built-in cupboards along one wall. There is a separate bathroom on the landing with glass-tiled walls. The master bedroom occupies the second floor, with a freestanding bath, a large dressing room, and an en-suite shower room. The top floor is dedicated to a wonderful reception, kitchen and dining room, with glazing on three sides and three large opening rooflights. This opens onto a southeast-facing terrace that makes the most of the outstanding views.
The architect David Adjaye first came to prominence at the end of the 1990s, with a number of dynamic London houses for high-profile clients including Ewan McGregor, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Chris Ofili and Alexander McQueen. More recently, the architect’s practice, Adjaye Associates, has turned its hand to major civic buildings, including Rivington Place and the Idea Store in London, the Nobel Peace Centre in Olso and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver.
Clerkenwell Close is quiet and traffic-free yet within a short walk of the outstanding restaurants and shops on St John Street, Clerkenwell Green and Exmouth Market. St Paul’s and the City are within easy reach to the south. Nearby Farringdon (Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines and National Rail) is one of the best-connected stations in London. It provides quick access to the West End and London’s major airports, is one stop from King’s Cross and St Pancras, and will benefit from the opening of Crossrail in 2018.
Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.
The original building was a three-storey, load-bearing brick structure, with a long, narrow footprint, orientated North-South. Fortuitously, at the South end of the site lies the very pleasant St James’s Churchyard. Adjaye took advantage of this, by removing the back wall and constructing a three-storey, cantilevered, glazed extension to exploit the prospect. An additional glazed extension, containing the living areas, was added to the rooftop. The glass used has a bronze tint, and has also been sandblasted to further soften or ‘fog’ the entering light – hence the name of the house.
Adjaye Associates say the following: “The Fog House occupies a small manufacturing building typical of the area, with a steel and glass envelope standing inside the shell of the earlier building. The envelope projects above the shell, giving a view across Clerkenwell’s rooftops, and out of one end, towards the parish church who’s churchyard has become a small park.
“All of the windows in the shell have been reglazed with translucent glass so that they admit light without giving a view. The intensity of light depends on the distance from the ground and the orientation of the windows… On each of the main floors, the translucent glazing makes a connection between the arrival point and the view towards St James’s church, which is framed in a different way at each level. A tendency to polarise the edges of each floor is most clear in the main living space: a panoramic view of the parish church contrasts with a telescopic view of nearby roofs, and a gentle splay on the party wall contrasts with the strict linearity of the new wall opposite. The precise colouring of the wall, and of the space, itself is dependent on external conditions. In brighter weather, it glows with diffused light; at other times, the glass has a darker colour and the internal refections describe a virtual space that has a mysterious depth. The effect of the solid parapet behind this wall is comparable to that of the horizon in a Sugimoto seascape.”
Adjaye Associates was established in June 2000 by founder and principal architect, David Adjaye OBE. Receiving ever-increasing worldwide attention, projects range in scale from private houses, exhibitions and temporary pavilions to major arts centres, civic buildings and masterplans in Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Renowned for an eclectic material and colour palette and a capacity to unfold cinematically, the buildings differ in form and style, yet are unified by their ability to challenge typologies and to generate a dynamic cultural discourse.