Field Work: our team explore light, shadow and materiality at Walmer Yard in Notting Hill
We’re sending our team to live and stay in architecturally interesting homes up and down the county.
For the latest instalment of Field Work, we sent Allie Boalch, Emma Mansell, Jake Elliot, Jack Blythman, Rae McCarthy-Yardley, and Elliot Sheppard to Walmer Yard, a collection of four houses arranged around a central courtyard in Notting Hill, designed by architect Peter Salter.
As Laura Mark, the keeper at Walmer Yard explained, “the idea here was to present quite a communal way of living”. As such, the four houses are amorphously demarcated externally, with rounded concrete walls, timber shutters and panelling and sculptural blue-hued rendering appearing more like architectural statements than defining elements of one unit.
“My favourite space was the courtyard, actually,” says Sales Advisor Jack Blythman. “The wooden floor sort of looks like stone, especially when it rains, and it also completely absorbs noise, so it is a very peaceful environment.”
Internally, Salter’s design is a celebration of materiality, with a palette of concrete, clay, steel, oak, lacquer and stained glass applied liberally but thoughtfully and in different iterations throughout the four houses. This, combined with unexpected spatial arrangements, renders a walk through the spaces an endlessly-surprising experience.
“There are panels of lacquered wood that are articulated brilliantly,” says in-house photographer Elliot Sheppard, “but then nestled around them are grainy, monumental stone and concrete structural sections, which contrast beautifully.”
“The house that we stayed in had a complex layout, in some ways, and I got disorientated at times, but in an intriguing way – it meant that the experience of being there was about discovery,” says Director of Digital Marketing Emma Mansell.
Owing to the mid-January weather, light was not particularly abundant for the group’s stay. “It was interesting to see how the changes of weather affected our experience,” says Sales Advisor Rae McCarthy-Yardley. “It was so grey for the first day but the second day the sun came out and suddenly there were strips of lights in places. That immediately changed the space and drew my eye around in new ways.”
“My eye was naturally led to the pools of light and dark that were created through the unusual layout,” says Elliot. “The walls could be jutting or slightly pitched or have deep curvature. All of these forms and textures seemed to happen in unapologetically close proximity. At least initially, this made for quite a disorienting space, but one that asked you to explore and search out moments.”
After spending two days and one night at Walmer Yard, the team reflected on their experience: “The idea of slow living informed the design, and we definitely got a sense of that. It was a very calming, peaceful and quiet place to live and work,” says Studio and Events Manager Allie Boalch.
Walmer Yard is now the home of the Baylight Foundation, which exists to deepen the public’s understanding of the experience of architecture. The foundation offers rare opportunities to stay in the houses at Walmer Yard and will shortly launch a cultural programme of events with proceeds from this directly funding the work of the charity. For more information about staying at Walmer Yard see their website.