Alexander Owen Architecture transformed a house in south London using marble cladding, a luxury material more often associated with palaces and villas. Pieces of marble were cleverly fitted together to create a stunning effect for a modern family home, which comes complete with a bar for outdoor entertaining.
By Helen Parton
The clients at this south London property wanted to use marble to reference a family heirloom.
When you think of marble it is usually stately residences that come to mind. In south London, a comparatively unassuming project has taken up the material as a central feature using it in creative and unexpected ways. The bespoke family home, designed by Alexander Owen Architecture, incorporates marble as a cladding feature for a back-end extension and a new garden room. Both buildings face onto a brick patio, ideal for outdoor entertaining.
Marble makes a great choice within the context of the inside and outside of the building.
The clients, a TV producer and a business psychologist, wanted to use a local practice and had seen the work of Alexander Owen Architecture at Peckham Levels, a popular mixed-use building designed for start-ups and featuring a mix of street food vendors, bars, retail and workspaces. They also had specific request: Inspired by a marble bust and table they had inherited, the owners wanted to incorporate the same type of stonework into their backyard addition. Richard Bridges and James Webster, founders of Alexander Owen Architecture, responded to the brief by designing a single-storey rear extension that accommodates an open-plan kitchen-diner, utility room and bathroom. The garden room serves as a home-office, bar and social space.
This project used two types of marble, which were chosen for their colouration and veining.
Both the extension and the outdoor space feature marble. Precision-cut, the Italian stone fits together seamlessly around the window frames like a jigsaw puzzle. Two types of marble were chosen: Arabescato, a lighter marble with hazy, soft veining; and Bardiglio, a darker grey stone from Tuscany with more structured veins. The result is a luxurious yet simple finish. In addition to the marble, the architects worked with their clients in choosing complementary natural finishes, including poured concrete floors, a stainless steel island unit and timber on the ceiling.
Marble sets the tone for the luxurious yet simple aesthetic this client wanted.
Split into zones, the home is designed for the way they live as a family of five. The utility room and bathroom are located in the mid-section of the property in order for the kitchen and garden room to be kept as a more grown-up space for having friends over for dinner. The rest of the house can effectively be shut off, with the utility space playing a key role in storage. When they want to come together, adults and children can enjoy time in the snug at the front of the house. The owners wanted a design that recognised the fact they are a family with young children and also to allow them to express themselves and entertain.
This project was intended to serve from day to night as a workplace through to a social space.
The garden room, in particular, has played an important role over the last year, serving as a home-office during the week. It’s physical separation from the main house has helped in establish boundaries between work and leisure and in providing an ideal spot for workouts. No doubt, even after the pandemic, it will continue to be a much-loved multifunctional space for years to come.
All pictures: © French & Tye