Architect: vPPR Architects
Southcote Road, London N19
This wonderfully imaginative two-bedroom detached contemporary house is tucked away in a private gated yard within a short walk of Tufnell Park station. Designed by the acclaimed architects vPPR, it won a prestigious RIBA award and was shortlisted for the Stephen Lawrence Prize. The project has featured in numerous publications, including Wallpaper, The Observer and the Architects’ Journal.
Upon entering the house, there is built-in storage to one side and steps up to a large open-plan kitchen and dining room. Two bedrooms and two bathrooms are tucked away behind the kitchen. The wonderfully dynamic living space is positioned on the first floor, with generous windows and a huge skylight. There is a private garden to the rear.
The house was built in 2013 as one of a pair, on the site of a former joinery workshop between Victorian houses. A discrete electric gate provides access to a narrow passageway, opening onto a shared courtyard. The architects responded to the shape of the site by developing two triangular houses. This playful three-sided motif is repeated inside and out at a variety of scales, including skylights, flooring, worktops and even tiling.
The exterior of the house has been designed to minimise the impact on the surrounding area, with windows facing onto the courtyard to protect overlooking, and bricks carefully selected to fit into the local colour palette. The green roof, designed with landscape specialist Arabella Lennox-Boyd, is partitioned into a beautiful pinwheel pattern and acts as an artwork for the neighbours. Internally, the open-plan layout creates views across multiple spaces, decorated by the delicate interplay of daylight patterns that change from hour to hour.
Otts Yard is located off Southcote Road, a quiet residential street. It is well placed for access to the wonderful mix of independent retailers on Fortess Road, as well as the amenities of Kentish Town, Hampstead, Camden Town and Islington. Tufnell Park station (Northern Line) and numerous local buses (numbers 134, 390 and 4) provide easy access to the City and the West End. Gospel Oak station has direct links to Stratford, Richmond and Clapham Junction. Hampstead Heath is situated to the West, with its undulating walks, bathing ponds and tennis courts.
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 site for the Ott’s Yard houses contained a derelict workshop, with no less than 23 party walls. Two of the founder members of architecture practice vPPR – Cambridge graduates Tatiana von Preussen and Catherine Pease – acquired it at auction in 2009 and set about creating a pair of houses for their own use. The project was vPPR’s first major new-build project, and helped to generate significant attention for the practice.
Work began on the project in February 2012 and reached completion in August 2013. The dwellings were constructed using a timber frame, with plywood panels and steel to support the rooflights. The materials used on the project were chosen to reflect a Victorian palette, with brickwork and greenery to the exterior and white-painted walls to the interior.
The architecture critic Rowan Moore wrote about Ott’s Yard in The Observer:
“The project is hard at the centre and soft at the edges, changing from brick and the triangular geometry derived from the shape of the site, to lush planting. It is also, says von Preussen, a ‘good place for entertaining’, which highlights vPPR’s recurring interest in social spaces. The kitchens and a shared court are seen as such, and the project was inaugurated with exhibitions and parties in the old timber yard on which it would be built.”
In an interview with Wallpaper magazine, Tatiana von Preussen said:
“The triangular geometry of the site created the plans of the houses and their two gardens. By subdividing it into smaller triangles, we created this pinwheel fractal pattern, which gets repeated on every scale – even the tiling, the planters and the skylights. The landscape was also a central driver.”
Prior to co-founding vPPR, Tatiana von Preussen worked for landscape-design practice Field Operations on the High Line park in New York; Jessica Reynolds worked at Front, a façade design practice; and Catherine Pease worked at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on Mumbai airport.
vPPR Architects, are an award-winning London-based practice established in 2009 by Tatiana von Preussen, Catherine Pease and Jessica Reynolds. Inspired by art practice and historical precedent the studio work together with clients and collaborators to develop rigorous architectural concepts, which resolve complex and competing relationships between community, geometry, landscape and economy. We have produced a diverse body of work ranging from housing, cultural, and retail projects in London, New York, China and Russia.
Having a high success rate with planning applications, as developers themselves, the practice have an acute insight into the relationship between cost and value. In 2014, they were shortlisted for the RIBA Stephen Lawrence Award, won a RIBA London Regional Award, and were one of three shortlisted for RIBA Best Emerging London Practice of the year.