VILLA ADJAYE // 2009

// a house in the cityscape // design inspired by an architect

My first semester at IAA I got the assignment to design a residential house
based on the vision and design of architect David Adjaye. We were given
a lot in the midst of houses from around 1930, in downtown Reykjavik.

In his design, Adjaye strives to combine a modernist viewpoint with each
project´s varying inspirations. This allows for an interesting mixture of
exterior and internal storytelling.

This house is designed for an artist couple from London who desired a
house to live and work in. Based on this I emphasized the flow of natural
light and correspondence of spaces so that there would be a big, open
and bright work space but at the same time a more private atmosphere in
the living area.
Adjaye himself has delt with similar projects and to counteract the possible
problems of living and working in the same place he kept the two areas
seperate and different in feel.

I accentuated the seperation of work and home life by programing the
first floor as a general workspace and area for visitors. Once up the
narrow and personal stairway you enter a smaller and more intimate
space meant for relaxation and dwelling. There you find the couple´s
bedroom, bathroom and a living room which can be closed off. The
formal language of the house rhymes with this seperation of spaces
because the shell of the house surrounds and encloses the smaller upper
floor, which seperates from the outer wall.

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Adjaye´s unusual use of natural light was exemplified in this house in
the use of large simplistic windows and areas that reflect light and the
narrow use of traditional windows.
The house is a heavy and simple structure but above it lies the gravitydefying
roof, which is inspired by Adjaye´s use of light structures and
opposites. Like so many of his houses this one is closed to the outside
and doesn´t reveal much of its secrets to bypassers. His residential
houses can generally be described as extrovertly simple but complex and
thought-out on the inside. Like him, I strived to create a certain
experience and strong feeling inside my building.

From the street this house seems simple but once a person enters the
narrow passage its secrets are slowly revealed. The person can either go
into the private garden or enter the house through the nonchalant doors
and discover it´s inner secrets. This entry creates a strong spatial
experience which continues within the house itself. The opposites are as
follows: narrow-wide, open-restrained, bright-dark and heavy-light.

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