by Meghna MehtaJan 12, 2021
UK-based architectural studio Eldridge London’s residential design in Kingston is a work of contemporary art, which sets it apart from its neo-classical neighbouring suburban bungalows. Located in a secluded enclave near the Thames, the House in Coombe Park was designed for a client who has an interest in modern, contemporary architecture. “The opportunity to build his own house offered the potential to ally his enthusiasm for contemporary architecture with a structure of greater permanence and resonance,” states the firm’s official release. The design is playful, curved, trefoil plan, with open spaces set within a verdant garden and enclosed in glass and concrete, lending a surprising appearance, and drawing from its site and context.
The House in Coombe Park is inspired by a mature oak tree and the gentle, sloping landscape it is set within, with the latter enveloping the residence. Its distinct, rounded and ribbed form can be seen and accessed through an open street. The unexpected design sees a trefoil shaped plan, which can be observed repeatedly within the house’s details at different scales, as a ‘subtle architectural motif’ in the door handles, the vertical aluminium cladding members on the first floor facades, and with coffee tables also resembling the said motif.
The ‘house in the landscape’ is divided across sweeping levels, with the main accommodation resting underneath the dramatic entrance rotunda at the garden level, which also houses a dining and kitchen area. The lower garden level can be accessed through a suspended oak and brass staircase that descends from the street level, through a glazed double height entrance rotunda. A light filled stairwell inside spirals into the first floor of the residence, which is reserved for the master suite.
The whole of the floating first floor is occupied by the master suite, with the beautiful tree canopies outside giving it a candid company. Its full height glazed façade offers stunning views of the lush gardens that extend below. The rear of the residence hosts a gym and a bedroom, with large curved roof lights at the street level landscape to bring in ample daylight. Service spaces have been planned radially across the rear retaining wall.
Eldridge London follows an approach to find inspiration from a site and its context, to masterfully deliver a memorable structure, rather than just blind mimicking. “In a setting where the built context was disparate and of limited quality, we responded directly to the key landscape features to establish a strong conceptual framework for the plan and section of the building,” shares the design team.
The House in Coombe Park employs natural materials in its 505 sqm design (a link to the oak tree) with oak flooring, stairs and furniture that compliment warmly its finely finished exposed concrete form. The grey limestone paving outside appends the refined interior elements of polished brass and stainless steel, along with white marble. The tactile interiors are decorated in fair concrete, crafted furniture and joinery in fine materials, and a light coloured palette, with abundant natural light flooding its open plans through its glass facades.
Open planned living spaces are distributed along length of the glazed, south facing elevation, which frames the verdant garden and the existing oak tree. This curve repeats in a 120-degree, rotational symmetry to form the aforesaid ‘trefoil’ plan.
Eldridge London makes the oak tree a prime focus yet again by following the same geometries as the house in its external landscaping, with hornbeam trees on the front and side obstruct views to the site from the street. The garden lawn has a stainless-steel path etched into it and “merges into the street level roof edge coping which together define the outline of the trefoil plan form of the spaces below.”
As one approaches the building, “a series of vertical cantilever balusters project from these curving alignments forming a shifting moiréfringe effect.” A natural swimming pool is also part of the residential project, which utilises marginal aquatic planting that naturally filters and cleanses the pool water.
Eldridge London has created a generous design, which appears light due to its usage of glass and open spaces. The House in Coombe Park responds to the context but doesn’t blindly mirror it – it is contextual yet distinctive, establishing a worthy example of highly contemporary residential architecture, much to the client’s wishes. As rightly described by the Kingston Planning Design Review panel, “With its compact footprint in relation to its plot, its conformity to the established building line and heights of its neighbours, it retains a front lawn, a back garden with several layers, it provides a place to take tea, and even a garden shed”. They added further, that Eldridge London “has created a beautiful house, uniquely responding to its setting and its landscape with the most elegant spatial ordering. It lends its landscape to the setting through the clear storey and the soft forms.”
Name: House in Coombe Park
Location: Coombe Park, Kingston upon Thames, United Kingdom
Internal Area: 505 sqm
Year of completion: 2020
Client: Jim Mason
Architect: Eldridge London
Design team: Nick Eldridge, Mike Gibson (project architect), Nico Giuriato, Will Flint, Emily Quesne, Alison Poole
Contractor: NBS / NBS Joinery Ltd
Subcontractors / Suppliers: Fairfaced Concrete - NBS / NBS Joinery, Kitchen/joinery/staircase – Joe Mellows Furniture Makers, Bespoke metalwork – Detail Metalwork, Bespoke Sofa – Coakley & Cox, Oak Floor – Dinesen, Marble – Pisani / Modo di Marmi, Bathroom fittings – Vola, Aluminium cladding – Sapa Aluminium, Swimming Pond – Aquascapes