Young architects David Liddicoat & Sophie Goldhill are married, and together run their own studio, Liddicoat & Goldhill.
Having realised the extreme difficulty of getting on the housing ladder they set out to build a house themselves. The Shadow House was their first own home, and the practice’s first completed.
They built it to beat the downturn, transforming a forgotten fragment of land in Camden into a bold experiment in contemporary living on a shoestring.
Because their budget was so tight, they planned to carry out as much work as possible themselves and limited their palette to primary materials.They found these limits liberating rather than restricting: there is great poetry in practical things, so they reveled in finding simple means of assembling the house.
It is built inside and out in slim-format Dutch engineering brick, a robust material with a delicate black glaze. Interior structure and window reveals are in raw larch, while polished concrete floors flow between each of the rooms.
One small luxury that they allowed was to buy two slabs of bookmatched Statuarietto marble, which they used throughout the house as a reflective contrast to the brick walls.The whole design revolves around this play of light & dark; carefully controlled moments of intensity and quiet shadow.They wanted to create interior spaces with maximum emotional effect.
The bright first floor bathroom has a huge sheer glass ceiling (which needed to be craned into place) that contrasts with the intense atmosphere of the living spaces. Liddicoat & Goldhill created the sensation of being outside; showering in full sunshine or bathing under the stars.
They playfully carved space into the walls for everyday clutter; the T.V. and its cables are concealed behind a black glass wall, the toilet roll has its own marble niche, the washing machine is in a secret cupboard behind the toilet. Discreet storage fills every spare corner while the kitchen extract is buried into the brickwork.
In order to give a sense of space to what could feel like very constrained rooms, it was important for Liddicoat & Goldhill to modulate the section and vary the ceiling heights. By changing the floor level and building roofs at different heights they created a range from 3m in the living room to 2.1m in the entrance area. This allowed them to give each space its own sound quality and sense of cosiness or airiness.
Just building a house doesn’t make a home: they also designed their fittings and furnishings; the minimalist Zero larch bedframe; kitchen cabinetry in elm, stainless steel, marble and spray lacquered matt doors; The Shadow Lamp, a granite and laser-cut timber table light; soft furnishings using amazing African fabrics, Nyaradza bedspread and Akwasidee cushions.