Roominaroom by atmos

Roominaroom by atmos

Location: London, England
Year: 2013
Photo courtesy: atmos

The clients for this small residential jewel have an expanding family but fixed walls. Since they couldn’t expand upwards or outwards, we had to build inwards. We designed a room within a room.


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.


The room packs a series of planes and pockets that carefully combine minimal volume with maximum pleasure. Barely shoulder-width at its exposed elevation, the room offers a rich, sensual, multiprogrammed journey from door to bed. The room is wrapped in thin structural plywood ribs that swell and retract as needed to provide integrated furniture, and to mete out a cinematic rhythm on the short but highly articulated journey through the space. Their outer skin is sheathed in glowing plasterboard that blends back into the existing room, the room within a room appearing to swell from the corner like a subtle force of life.


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, yet low enough to be reached from a floor which thus had to be both lifted as high as possible from its host living room floor, yet low enough to leave enough head-room above it. The bed cantilevers over the floor to offer sufficient legroom for its future transformation into a generous desk as the children grow and migrate and the room becomes a workspace. The generous space beneath, originally intended as simply the vast storage space everyone dreams of, was so admired that it became a padded forestal lounge for “smaller people.”


The front rib aligns with a vertical window mullion, affording fenestrated fire escape to the room beyond. Its timber frames the glazed entry door with a slim vertical portal that grows out of the floor and branches into the ceiling. The wall behind the portal frame then angles back to widen the room, cradling a horizontal desk surface which flows onwards into the bed itself.


Each subsequent rib sensually wraps around the room, exposed as vertical shelf supports to the south exposed in both floor and ceiling along their journey across into the acoustic plasterboard wall opposite. The ribs rise and curl backwards to support both the hovering bed and the desk cantilever, their surfaces lavishly carved to feed the views in through the cinematic glazing.


The bed wedges between a wall that leans back to flow seamlessly into the ceiling of the room beyond, and a compact storage cupboard opposite, whose side is pulled like a curtain aside to provide integrated ergonomic bedside storage, which is extended by a shelf above. The bedrest 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; the horizontal book-matching mimics the mesmerising mirror effect of the city’s mountain reflected in their river. Abstract engravings of her favourite flowers provide foreground contrast and reveal the sectional archaeology of the timber substrate.


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 carved timber floorstrips 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, their accumulated void similarly reflected by a mirrored floor beneath, from which the stair’s main lasercut steel beam springs forth.


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 curls round the corner and blends into the front edge of the shelves, turning 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.


The room arrived in the back of a truck, flat-packed, and was rapidly unfolded into a set of ribs that were connected and erected within a day.

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