Studio RHE [Richard Hywel-Evans] is an internationally renowned and dynamic London-based architectural practice working at the forefront of architecture. Since its inception in 1997, Studio RHE has seen over 50 projects built worldwide. With a design ethos that has sustainability and inventiveness at its core, the firm have over 15 awards to their name, including Best International Development, Best Architecture and Architectural Record Award’s Good Design is Good Business.
Seeking inspiration beyond their immediate profession, Studio RHE takes pride in delivering bold projects that are exceptional examples of innovative design and finish. Successful in their goal to complete projects based on social, scientific and artistic innovation, they embrace technologies from other industries that stretch the possibilities of building today. Utilising this approach to work in harmony with site context and natural environment, these ideals have been realised through a series of acclaimed projects to date, ranging from high-tech urban penthouses to contemporary workspaces and pioneering ecological resorts.
We caught up with firm director, Richard Hywel-Evans...
Richard, tell us what Studio RHE is all about? What words describe the practice and its ethos?
Studio RHE is a dynamic and innovative practice at the forefront of architecture in London today. At the heart of our design philosophy is a quest for inventive and optimistic solutions to everyday building issues, whether working on urban master plans, resort developments or bespoke housing projects. We formed Studio RHE to do something different. And it worked. Today we have over fifteen major design awards to our name and have delivered over fifty architectural projects around the world.
The Penthouse is a very special development. Can you provide us with any interesting history about the property?
Lansdowne Crescent is part of the Ladbroke Estate which was developed from the 1860s onwards. It was begun by one developer but completed by another. We effectively did the same thing when we took on this property, which was formed of two individual mansion blocks on a premier London street. We completed the building by adding a final level, a finishing touch to make it complete.
When did your clients acquire the property and when did you begin working on its development?
Our client purchased the Freehold for the two mansion blocks that sit underneath the apartment in 2008. The building in its original state looked as though it hadn’t been finished off and as if someone had forgotten to put the roof on it. Our clients asked if we thought it was feasible to create a brand-new home up there, joining the two buildings with a bridge and with its own private access. The aim was to really maximise the views over London and make it very transparent and lightweight with large clear open spaces. So that is what we set out to achieve…
What were the outstanding qualities of this site?
The location is fantastic, perfectly positioned between Notting Hill and Holland Park, surrounded by wide, leafy green streets and some of the best garden squares in London. The two mansion blocks on this site were clearly of a lesser scale to the surrounding buildings which presented a unique opportunity to upward expansion. To add to this we had an adventurous client with an interest in high-end design.
What was your overall concept for the property?
We set out to create an all-glass rooftop home, which mimicked the proportions of a traditional mansard roof but with a distinct difference. Employing a lightweight laser-cut, stainless-steel frame with custom-made frameless and double-curvature sealed glass panels, naturally ventilating automatic gull-wing windows and curved blinds, would create a unique perspective and maximise the views and the idea of living among the canopy of the Crescent’s trees. The two blocks were to be an all-glass, two-storey bridge and a glass lift that would provide private access to the two top floors.
How long did the development take and what was the most difficult element to overcome?
The development took 12 months to complete. The element that really tested us was the double-glazed curved glass, particularly at the corners. They were handmade in Italy with the corner units slumped over the 3D frames.
What was the biggest extravagance when completing this home?
The Iris Recognition entry system.
Which element of this property’s development are you most proud of?
The fact, that for such an extravagant piece of architecture, it fits in very well with its surroundings
What is Studio RHE working on at present?
We are working on Alphabeta, a major new sustainable, low-energy office refurbishment near to central London’s Silicon Roundabout. Set over nine storeys with over 200,000 sq ft of space, the development will be the new centre for London’s modern creative and media companies. Alphabeta rejects traditional notions of the controlled office and instead, offers an adaptable space designed for the enjoyment of a creative and empowered workforce. By restoring and reformatting a series of historic buildings with a sophisticated urban aesthetic, we are creating an active and vibrant place to work and socialise. The design is playful but also practical with a variety of spaces and features, from the atrium cafe overlooking the ride-in cycle ramp, to the eighth floor terrace, providing panoramic views across the capital. We think it will redefine the workplace environment.
View Studio RHE on the Domus Nova Architecture Guide
Studio RHE, 4 Green Mews, Bevenden Street, London N1; studiorhe.com