The Lost House, formerly a delivery bay of an industrial building in the heart of London’s King Cross district is regarded as one of the most significant domestic projects designed by the internationally renowned architect David Adjaye. The founder of Adjaye Associates and a Royal Gold Medal-winner designed the house for fashion designer Roksanda Ilincic and her husband Philip de Mesquita.
Completed in 2004, the house is a masterpiece for spatial design and natural light. The eccentricity of the house is the black walls, built-in raw concrete furniture, and a fish pond in the large light well.
By using the conception of renovation and adaptive re-use, the original features of the building were preserved including the loading platform, an all-green sunken cinema room, and a water garden in planted courtyards that complements the light wells.
Hidden behind the self-effacing brick facade in the alleyway, the concrete loading platform was transformed into a plinth for an upper-level swimming pool with black painted walls adjoining the bathroom next to the pink-walled master bedroom. The light filters in by a slit window along the wall by the bedroom.
The house is predominantly planned on three levels; the main ground floor consisting of the living space and a rear garage, the lower ground floor includes two bedrooms with in-room facilities and a lap pool with an attached bathroom and sauna. Above the garage is a mezzanine that accommodates a bedroom cum study area.
The house has no existential windows; nonetheless, three light wells encased in glass are spread out over the long, open plan.
The 4000 sq.ft., three-bedroom property articulates around a central reception area which includes the kitchen, dining, and lounge areas with a fish pond that brings in natural light through the light well inside the residence. The shared living space incorporates a sunken screening area and an outdoor garden.
The ground floor is an open plan with a double-height ceiling. Three tall, glass-walled light wells extend up to the black painted timber eaves of the roof. The house is unbound by any windows and hence, the only sources of natural light are the light wells. The shiny black resin floor reflects the black chipboard walls, ceiling, and exposed timber beams.
The courtyard garden in the light well is planted with tropical greenery featuring a wooden deck surrounding a cluster of concrete circular seating with grey pebbles covering the floor. The reception area highlights original built-in furniture that opens up to the courtyard via a hidden door along the back wall.
One wall of the courtyard accentuates vertical wooden slats enclosing the former loading bay diffusing the sunlight entering from the street. The slit window along with the interior wall filters in natural light into the guest bedroom on the opposite side.
Further back at the ground level, a second light well features a glass-enclosed fish pond that divides the living space into the reception area and kitchen, dining area and a sunken living room. The third light well illuminates a small garden in the corner. Sunlight enters from the rear garage as well which is accessible from the parallel street.
The steps near the front of the house lead up to the entryway to the two bedrooms. The raised ground floor of the loading bay plinth supports the lap pool. Black tiles surround the pool that is part of the master bathroom for the main bedroom.
The element of concrete runs throughout the house. The bathroom has a wet room-type shower and two sinks that sit on a concrete counter below mirrored cabinets.
The Lost House reflects Adjaye’s philosophy of ornate minimalism, natural materials, and earthy tones. The colors of the house are expressed in these earthy tones with each room having a different color with matching carpets.
The first bedroom includes an in-room vanity and water closet. The light enters the room via slit windows in the reception area and a smaller light well in the corner of the room extracts natural light in from the courtyard.
The master bedroom runs parallel to the first bedroom and is accessible through the long hallway. The bedroom features a small light well that brings in sunlight from the central water feature.
The slit windows contain mounted lights that open up and illuminate the kitchen and dining area on the opposite side of the wall. The stairs at the rear of the bedroom lead up to the lap pool and the adjacent bathroom. The bedroom on the mezzanine is currently used as a home office.
The Lost House is laid out in an expansive single storey dwelling with various internal and external views. The parallel spaces described by the section of the yard are braced and dilapidated by the fabric of the house. To bring light by deeper sections, the roof is punctuated by three roof lights that form courtyards. The spatial layering of the plan is accentuated by the use of color. For protection from the weather, the parking area and the platform were recessed into the section of the building above.