Small Project Winner 2013
Project Title: RoominaRoom
Wood Species and Products Used: Latvian birch plywood, oak staved kitchen worktops, American black walnut
Building client/owner: Private
Architect: Atmos Studio
Structural Engineer: Blue Engineering
Wood Supplier: James Latham, Essex
Other services: Object Design (CNC), Creffields (Timber & Boards) Ltd
The clients for this small residential jewel have an expanding family but fixed walls. Since they couldn’t expand upwards or outwards, the design had to build inwards. Thus a room within a room was designed.
The project was generated from simple but severe planometric and sectional constraints, literally growing from its context. Its volume tucks into a corner to take up minimum volume, yet its innards array to maximise the sense of interior spaciousness.
It was constructed from glued and screwed CNC-carved plywood sheets for speed and cost, each cut edge carefully profiled to soften the form of a warm, intimate, cosy domestic space where the performance of the structure and the pattern of the grain are fully expressed.
The project arrived flat-packed in the back of a truck, and was rapidly unfolded into a set of plywood ribs that were connected and erected within a day. The ribs enabled maximum structural performance with, densifying where needed to cantilever whilst supporting a 250kg plane of acoustic glass.
The room compacts a series of planes and pockets that carefully combine minimal volume with maximum functionality and expression. Barely shoulder-width at its exposed elevation, Roominaroom offers a rich, sensual, multiprogrammed journey from door to bed. The thin structural enwrapping plywood ribs swell and retract as needed to provide integrated furniture, doubling as shelf or bed or desk supports, meting out a cinematic rhythm on the short but highly articulated journey through the space. Their outer skin is sheathed in plasterboard that seamlessly blends back into the existing room.
The room is accessed by a spiralling set of stairs that grow from the corner of the room and flow between the pillars of the entry portal, their lower levels continuing as a series of alcove shelves beneath. The steps offer fluidly curving plywood floorboards that fluidly trace the journey, slowly eroding towards the inaccessible rear of the step into a carved contoured topography that eventually melts away as a hole to reveal the steps below.
The slender CNC-carved oak line serving as the front lip to the treads converge into a vertical web of lines which form a handrail that turns to trace across the storage cupboard before splitting and looping along the shelf above the bed, around its window and back along both sides of the bed and desk, ending by merging and diving into the floor where they cross back to the graphic handrail line that first bore them. Carefully machine-carved inlays enable steel reinforcement where needed.
The double bed nestles in a shaded timber alcove at the end of the room, hovering just high enough to allow passage beneath its cantilevered structure in the room below, yet cantilevering over the floor to offer sufficient legroom for its future transformation into a generous desk. Its plastered side wall leans back to flow seamlessly into the ceiling of the room beyond, while its other timber storage side is pulled like a curtain aside to provide an integrated ergonomic alcove. The bed-rest is veneered with cross-grain walnut book-matched to form the image of a distant landscape, the timber grain recalling the extraordinary mountain formations of the landscapes surrounding one of the client’s hometown of Guilin, China.