Tuesday, October 21, 2014

DISCOVERY OF THE DAY: TOM KAY

Who was Tom Kay? He was an adventurer who loved motorbikes and deserts and foaming rivers. He was a conscientious objector who refused to do national service in the late 1950s. He was also fastidious, clever and humane. His buildings maximised illumination and habitation, and his discipline brought architectural students to peer into the nooks of his own home in Camden Town, north London. The masterpiece I would like to talk about on that post.
As an architect, he never wanted to develop a house style; each project scrupulously addressed the individual needs of brief, site and context. His output was not large, but it was diverse, ranging from houses and interiors to offices, studios and light industry.

His architecture? This is the house that Tom built for his own family, with his studio included. Probably, it was the first of his buildings to receive general acclaim because of the remarkable exercise in compression and sensitivity. It's sited in Murray Mews (Camden Town), backing onto a terrace of Victorian houses.

After initial planning refusal by the local authority who wanted to enforce a l0ft building line, Kay won an appeal enabling him to build right on to the street. The result is a house, made of secondhand London bricks, that is perfectly integrated into its urban surroundings.It's amazing how on a very small site Tom managed to insert three bedrooms, two terraces, the studio, a garage,garden... 
This house has been designed with an uncompromising logic that is in no way doctrinaire. After coming in through the virtually blank brick wall, it is astonishing to find the house full of natural light, often pouring from above. Every opportunity has been taken to maximize space, light and volume and levels on a small site, and the result is a truly innovative house.
I can only admire his work deeply and imagine how amazing would be living in a place like this cosy house. Take a look...



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