When architect Rupert Scott and his wife, interior designer Leo Wood, first laid eyes on a London gin distillery, it was dark, dank, and not at all inviting. Yet, despite its flaws, the couple immediately purchased the property for its surreptitious character.
Thanks to a vision of creating a bright, modern family home, they worked together to completely gut the tired-looking building and reconfigure its interior layout.
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Scott, who is the founder and director of Hackney-based Open Practice Architecture, was responsible for the architectural work, while Wood, founder and director of Kinder Design, took the lead on designing and styling the interiors.
Thankfully for the couple, the building wasn’t in a conservation area. After purchasing the property in the late summer of 2014, Scott was able to demolish much of the existing structure, keeping only the brick walls and concrete floor as his blank canvas.
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Because the distillery was landlocked by buildings on both sides, Scott had to find innovative ways to bring natural light in, while still maintaining visual privacy.
The original building had a triangular plan, and featured concrete floors, a side alley lined with fridges, a mezzanine, and a corrugated roof. The large windows of the old distillery had been sealed with bricks, and the smaller windows had been barred.
Scott incorporated four outdoors spaces into the floor plan of the new 1,760-square-foot home, which has since been longlisted for the Royal Institute of British Architects House of the Year.
At the back of the house, a black steel staircase rises toward a sun-drenched landing that continues on to two contemporary, cabin-like bedrooms.
"It had been on the market for ages and the planners were glad someone was taking it on. It was so grim and densely overlooked that developers didn’t want it," says Scott.
"Because this site was so difficult, I went to pre-planning with almost fully worked-up designs," he continues to explain.
Best of Design 2018