Oak House, Highgate
Oak House is a new home set in a secluded location in an old parkland setting in Highgate, a short distance from Hampstead Heath in north London. The materials for the house draw on the wooded nature of the site and the traditional building materials of London. The exterior of the first floor is clad in vertical green oak cladding and hovers above smooth Portland stone below. The rough chamfered texture of the oak mimics the canopies of the surrounding mature trees.
Planning was achieved on this challenging site with a sensitive approach and careful attention to detail and use of materials. The planning regulations stipulated that the new house could only be two stories above ground, the proposal for a 320m2 house therefore included a basement for the home office and ancillary functions of the house with living and bedrooms on the upper levels.
The house is oriented to maximize the views to the garden and sunlight to the principal rooms at ground floor level. Here the arrangement of connected living spaces and oblique views through large glazed openings gives a feeling of open plan living. Sliding pocket doors to the main living room allow the connectivity and enclosure to the space to be adjusted to suit the occasion – creating a kind of ‘contained open-plan living’.
Oak has been used for the interior finishes throughout the house. Narrow horizontal bands of oak are used for the kitchen cupboard door fronts and joinery in the study and balustrading down to the basement. The ‘folding’ oak stair up to the first floor continues this theme along with the stair up to the roof.
A large rooflight above the main stair floods natural light to the ground floor below. The bathrooms on the first floor are also top lit with rooflights to maintain privacy with a neighbouring house. The first floor windows can be shaded with external sliding oak shutters that are operated internally
The basement area contains a home office and the house utility areas. The glazed external light well can be accessed by an external staircase, giving the office its own entrance.