31. Oct 2016

Lightwell House in Fulham, London/GB

Text: Jo-Eike Vormittag

Photos: Naaro Photography


There are many older buildings in cities around the world that are well worth renovating before embarking on constructing a never-ending series of resource-consuming new buildings. If renovated sensitively, old buildings can develop a very special charm, especially those in the UK that date back to the Victorian era. Working on such projects is definitely a challenge, but also a chance to enhance the architecture – inside and out. The same applies to the lighting, which must be designed and applied intelligently to the existing and renovated architecture.


The Lightwell House, an unusually long Victorian Lion House situated at the bend of a long terrace in Fulham, London/UK, was recently revitalised, and is an excellent example of how such renovation projects can give rise to highly flexible and welcoming family home environments. The terraced houses are set very close to one another on long, narrow plots of land. They not only encroach on each other space-wise; they also limit the amount of light that can enter through the relatively small original windows in the 200-year-old Victorian houses. Thanks to the conversion work on one house, this is now a different story altogether. The architects from Emergent Design Studios seized upon the opportunity and focussed the new concept on bringing natural light inside the house. Based on the orientation of the building, they applied extensive light wells externally and internally, incorporating glass floors and glazed balustrades. By enhancing the use of daylight, the home has acquired a sense of openness and vitality, plus visual connectivity both inside and out. These building measures were both possible and necessary, given that the building is used as a family home, and the needs and requirements of a modern-day family have changed over two centuries. An ample and otherwise dark basement space is now connected to the upper levels both visually and physically through light wells, offering pleasant, friendly living spaces. The extensive light wells that top the extensions enable abundant natural light to penetrate the contemporary interiors. This was an extremely wise move, given that the terraced houses also allow very little space outside for a garden or patio where the occupants can sit, play and enjoy the sunlight. So why not incorporate this into the design of the house itself?


Daylight pours into the ground floor living space with the kitchen and dining area through the large skylight that runs the length of the lateral extension. Over the course of the day the degree and quality of the incident daylight changes, as do the light and shadow conditions. Clear lines, white floors, ceiling and walls support the quest for a brighter space. The staircase with its glazed balustrade, as well as a section of glazed flooring, capture the natural light, maximising the level of brightness on the level below, which was formerly the basement. What were once small windows have been replaced with larger openings, allowing more daylight to penetrate the upper floors. Two skylights have been built into the new and larger roof construction, as well as into the existing roof – both face towards the sky. The artificial light in the house complements the natural light and highlights the design, textures and finishes of the architecture and interior design. The majority of the luminaires have been discreetly integrated into the ceilings, built-in walls or furniture. The LEDs applied are warm white (2500 to 3000K) and can be controlled and dimmed to create the right atmosphere or to align to family members’ individual requirements.


The historic building envelope remains Victorian to this day, although the core of the building has been completely refurbished and modernised. The light wells form a kind of bridge between these two worlds, with the daylight in the living spaces providing the best possible vitalising effect the occupants could wish for.


Architekten: Emergent Design Studios


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