Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This house designed by David Adjaye for British Artists Tim Noble and Sue Webster, named the Dirty House (2002), is located in the dirty streets of a slowly gentrifying suburb of East London. The exterior responds to the roughness of the surroundings. The thick brick walls of the existing two-storey warehouse have been painted black, covering the roughness of the construction when viewed from a distance but still visible under the black paint on closer inspection. The highly reflective glazing of two rows of windows, one at ground level fitted flush with the exterior wall and one at the first storey that are set back revealing the thickness of the wall. The windows protect the interior from being visible whilst reflecting the brick facades of the neighbouring buildings, a shiny image of the grimy neighbourhood opposite. The glazing at the upper level that contains the main living area is set back forming a protected and private balcony which is covered by a large white roof.
The work-live house contains two introverted 6m high studio spaces in the existing brick building and a new one storey glass enclosure which is an open bright loft like space that contains a large living area, dining area and kitchen with a large skylight and a more private bedroom and bathroom suite seperated from the open plan living areas by a wall of closets. The interior is a gleaming white space with an introverted quality for the studio spaces and open and light for the living areas.
The interior makes reference to important 20th century artists such as James Turrell and Dan Flavin and pristine white gallery spaces whilst acknowledging and embracing the grittier character of the neighbourhood that is typical of areas artists have inhabited because of the availability of cheap studio space and which are subsequently gentrified. In doing so the Dirty House is not only a functional and well-designed space for living and working but also rich in meaning and references both to the city and contemporary art.