Skene Catling de la Peña
Skene Catling de la Pena has an enviable reputation as one of the most imaginative and eloquent architectural practices working today. Such qualities are clearly reflected in this impressive and poetic solution for a home designed around an innovative central core – the Focus – creating a building within a building, architecture within architecture.
This new typology can be repeated across any number of small, awkward sites. The design pulls all the ‘complicated’ parts of a residential building into its structural core. Its central location ensures a decorative presence in each room of the building while the outer skin is adapted to the irregularities of the site.
The Focus is a highly efficient, engineered design, beautifully answering the needs of contemporary living, rethinking the tradition of fire in an ingenious way, and re-working the principles of a tiled masonry- rather than wood-burning stove. In addition to producing radiant heat in winter and cooling in summer, it plays many other roles: it is staircase, fireplace, hob and oven; it supplies hot water, stores ‘Bio-Bean’ logs (a new product made from the waste of the coffee industry), and the heat generated can even be converted to electricity.
Using the approach Skene Catling de la Peña call Geoarcheology, relating materials and site, the first houses in London will use clay - on which the city sits - linking the them to their sites and resonating with surrounding buildings.
The integrity of the architecture emerges from its relationship to its context. Pre-fabrication is seldom associated with complex and generous spaces. Here, these are generated by the relationship between the central, sculpted core and the irregular site.
SCDLP won RIBA’s prestigious House of the Year award, a pedigree that comes as no surprise when discovering this incredible design.