Writer: Gem Barton
Teatum & Teatum hit the architectural industry in 2010 with a left field design approach [yes, it is still possible to be different] that has produced a series of distinguished and engaging outcomes as a result. Many architects would like to remove the ‘client’ from the design, management and construction of a building – T&T did just this with their acclaimed project Hidden House.
“Our primary interest was to regain control of both the design and the construction phase. With Hidden House we purchased the land, carried out the design, managed the construction and now operate the space. This forces us to have a long term vision and a very integrated approach.”
Teatum + Teatum Space is an architectural response to the modern condition of city dwelling, the flexible, freethinking, quick moving society. T+T effectively rent out the beautifully finished, contemporary, unique living and working spaces. But these aren’t just any old spaces, T+T answers to no-one; not client, not contractor, not developer…so the purest of concepts and the slickest of materials can be tastefully implemented and justified along with their dedication to spatial quality.
Teatum+Teatum are creating a collection of spaces across the city that are accessible and offer an opportunity to live & work in unique surroundings that inspire a narrative for living and dreaming. One of these spaces is Hidden House – a rental opportunity in West London, this project exemplifies the benefits of being in control of the design as well as the purse strings. This level of control allows T+T to invest heavily in key aspects of the design which they feel strongly about and keep tabs on costs in other areas; a general bone of contention when juggling budgets with clients. For example, the feature façade of this 100m2 Hidden House is brought to life by the monumental laser-cut steel butterfly doors. These doors took over 4 months to design and manufacture, the 2.4m central pivot hinge alone was handmade and took one week to make. No private client would have ‘allowed’ such an apparently extravagant gesture on a door, but it is this very door, and this very hinge, that bring the entire 100m2 of space to life. James Teatum says, “For us it was critical to how we envisaged the elevation and entrance and we therefore made the choice. If you are controlled and balance the design, this freedom to understand how and where to invest is a very creative process.
“We consider space as a fundamental part of our approach, an approach that sees the choreography of space as the central opportunity of our architecture.”
Hidden House is the leftover space of the city, it’s blank façade and its delicate internal detailing is the manifestation of its dislocation from the street, turning it’s back on the city. The scale and weight of the butterfly doors relate more to it’s commercial surroundings than domestic scale. There appears to be no other interest on the façade at all; no depth, no detail, no doorknob, no letterbox, no threshold ….no distraction.
Upon closer inspection this flat, black, windowless façade begins to reflect light. The black render is embedded with Silica Carbide particles, which means the material is constantly changing dependent on the intensity of light hitting the building. The innate reflective response to it’s surrounding is, in my opinion, so much stronger than the manipulation or simulation of existing materials to ‘fit in’ and appease the planning authorities. This bold statement is brave and yet perfectly subtle at the same time.
T+T think differently about building facades and at the same time make the viewer re-think their expectations, “Our recent proposal for a cinema in London uses a curved mirror steel facade. This facade is mirror polished, curved and reflects the park in front of the cinema. It becomes a 50 meter live landscape reflecting the park and people moving in the street simultaneously.”
So what else can we look forward to from T+T in the future?
Since completing Hidden House last year, T+T Space has 6 projects on the go. They have bought 2 more buildings in which they are developing concepts for large scale, mixed-use living spaces. T+T Projects are looking at a new infrastructure that could alter how people exercise in the city, it’s at the research stage but offers a great opportunity to intensify how existing parks and green spaces are used. They have also designed a space for the 2013 collection of young fashion label Teatum Jones for London Fashion Week. Inspired by the Cold War, this space will use stretched fabrics to reference the opposing ideologies of East and West.
Photography copyright Lyndon Douglas.