Conservatory Room by David Leech Architects:
Standard timber joists, at 600mm spacing, cross in both directions to allow for a free span between 2 rendered block work cavity walls. The timber beams sit on shallow pilasters formed where the block work is turned through 90 degrees to provide laterally restraint and to give a subtle relief to the bearing walls.
The beams above are slightly exposed to create a shallow coffer, although contemporary in appearance the filigree relief is reminiscent of Victorian orangeries and traditional conservatories. 1 large and 3 smaller proprietary roof lights form a loose constellation between the coffers and dictate the module. The roof lights are positioned so that a patterning of light moves across the wall over the course of a day as a second order to the architecture. Another pattern of circular ceiling mounted light-fittings form another order which becomes more visible at night.
Colour and polychromy are used as a way to mute the surface articulation of the ceiling and express the separate order of the roof lights to add richness, depth and atmosphere.
The original window opening to the back room is enlarged to create a generous connection between a new kitchen and a new family room. A counter and cupboards are constructed with green through-colored Valchromat MDF accented by a polished marble counter top.
Drainage access is concealed in a small carpet of polished marble tiles embedded in a struck insitu concrete floor, left unpolished. The rug of stone suggests in-habitation and aggregate - a contemporary translation of a Palladian terrazzo
The plant and utility spaces are located in an outhouse in the garden. A wall connects this room back to the main house. The rhythm of the pilasters is continued along this edge but the wall between drops to acknowledge the lower boundary condition. The pilasters extend beyond the wall to form 5 exposed columns. This extended wall frames a new garden court with the columns protruding to hold the cross joist ceiling structure which is now fully exposed forming a new open pergola hung with wisteria to provide shelter and shade.
All doors, roof-lights and the double glazed units are proprietary. The standard roof-light sizes therefore set out the module and spacing for the timber beams, which dictates the position of the piers and finally the proportion of the new room.Everyday construction techniques and materials were chosen driven by a desire for efficiency - to design cost-effectively and economically. These inexpensive materials are easily sourced, and importantly, knowledgeable for the tradesmen and local builders.
Working to a limited budget David Leech Architects proposed to work where possible with ‘off the shelf’ components. Where elements needed to be put together onsite like block work and timber joists we proposed to put more effort into the design and elaboration of these assemblies to generate a character and atmosphere for the house.
Architects at David Leech believe that rich architecture does not necessarily mean an expensive architecture. Researching the architecture of the Arts and Crafts movement we have realized that what has happened over the last century with the reversal of expenditure in construction works from material to labor costs means a highly crafted architecture is beyond the means of most everyday budgets due to the increased cost of labor and decreased access to affordable skilled makers.
The design was progressed through line drawing, perspectives and projected, and large scale 1:10 paper & card modelling to replicate daylight, material and texture. Drawings are used to test ideas and communicate proposals both in constructional arrangement, empirical, but also atmospheric and experiential.
Project: Conservatory Room
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Firm: David Leech Architects