Woodblock House






Architect: drmm
Client: private
Awards won: london award


This is a joyful, sensual house which is the product of a genuine collaboration between inventive architects and their imaginative artist clients. The building is almost totally made of timber, including its floors, walls and ceilings. This gives it an exceptional visceral quality; everywhere one can smell the wood and everything has a tactile handmade quality.

The brief was to create a studio, home and office for the artists Richard Woods and his partner; and their family. Woods required a printing workshop where his work can be manufactured. This is on the ground floor, north facing and opening onto a yard, with excellent ventilation and access. Family living accommodation is arranged above; facing south and opening onto a large balcony, bedrooms and bathroom are on the floor above, with a tiny library-cum-office in an eyrie at the very top, with a very special view of the surrounding rooftops.

The whole is arranged in a form which correlates with the building lines of adjacent properties.  The new element is pulled away from one of the party walls, which on a practical level allows access to take big pieces of wood through to the yard and provides fire separation between  the stair access to the dwelling and the workshop, while also reflecting the fun, playfulness and imagination  which can be seen everywhere in this little  development.  This  route  through has  the  quality  of an  outside-inside found space, onto which upper windows open, providing a layered effect with the new timber building set against the lightly washed brick next door.

Woods's work crosses the boundaries between art, architecture and furniture design and he played a very active role in putting this building together, creating the colourful screen printing on elements inside and out. The building is made of an expressed  cross- laminated  timber (CLT) panel structural system, which  was far  quicker  to construct  than  its equivalent  in brick or concrete would  have been and  it also has exceptional  sustainability credentials.  The architect points out that it is the only carbon positive method for long-span superstructures, since more carbon dioxide is absorbed through the lifetime of the trees' growth than is expended through the manufacture, delivery and installation.

The workshop and home were formed as two timber boxes, with the former clad in unpainted larch board and the latter in horizontal painted plywood. The studio has an under-floor heated ground slab while the wood house above is heated mainly through passive and active thermal solar gain and a single stove. This delightful, joyful home and workshop are a true accomplishment by both client and architect, which will undoubtedly be a lovely place to live and work.

CONTRACTOR: Cape Construction

structural engineer: Timber First

COST: confidential

PHOTOGRAPHER: alex de rijke