Collection by Ian Spula

This Dramatic London Renovation Boasts a Five-Story Bookcase


The London town house of a former British politican undergoes a total rebirth. Today its Victorian facade hides a sophisticated modernist plan and a towering library structure with 330 linear feet of books.

Overcrowded by books and roundly dilapidated, the onetime home of late Labor Party leader Michael Foot received a modern gut renovation and expansion by SHH Architects. Books still hold down the fort but are regulated by the architecture. “All the facades and layouts of houses in this area have the same recipe,” says project lead Stuart McLauchlan. Rather than give the visitor what she expects of a century-old Victorian town house—a formal entrance hall with staircase—the rebuild delivers a pleasantly surprising view from the front door straight through to the extension and tree line beyond.

Behind a traditional facade, the house was stripped to the studs and rebuilt with a timber and steel frame and a rear...
The extension is a two-story light box focused on the garden level, sunken below the front entry but at-grade with the...
The kitchen, Bulthaup island, and overhanging entrance-level comprise the remainder of the extension.
The stairs roll out into the kitchen and dining areas.
This cross-section of stairwell and library structure creates a shard of light for rooms on every level.
Reaching for the skylight, the five-story staircase is met at the top by the custom bookcase.
The lounge at the back of the entrance level exhibits the wide plank flooring common throughout the house.
Looking back on the home from the concrete patio, its verticality becomes apparent.