Necessity is the mother of invention, or so they say when it comes to approaching seemingly intractable problems with out-of-the-box thinking. One sees such ingenuity when it comes to cleaning up our plastic-choked oceans, building food security and conserving water.
Of course, that creativity is possible in architecture too, especially in cases of adaptive reuse or transforming under-utilized zones into livable spaces. Designboom recently showed how London's Undercurrent Architects created Archway Studios, a stunning home (now on the market) right under a nineteenth-century railway viaduct, writing that:
The unusual site beneath a railway viaduct requires special attention to soundproofing and vibration control. Sheets of steel foil are used as an acoustic envelope to protect the interior from the sounds of the surrounding railway, improving interior comfort. an insulated air gap between the inner and outer membranes allows for the interior skin to work solely towards acoustic reduction. The live-workspace — serving as both a family residence and a photography studio — won the London Architecture Awards’ ‘House of the Year’ in 2013.
The home occupies one of these railway arches, and expands out to include an atrium with 'residential alcoves'. The staggered, curved form of the home's exterior -- clad with oxidized metal to help it blend in with the rest of the Victorian-era viaduct -- has been specially designed to 'bounce' light into the interior, via strategically placed slits, while providing an acoustical shell.
That pulling in of the light is helped along with the atrium's skylight, creating "slender, ecclesial spaces." There's a nice contrast between the cozier, cavernous spaces of the arch (which is used as a photography studio) and the loftier spaces of the atrium.
According to the architects, the home serves as an example of how under-utilized spaces might be readapted into housing:
The building’s unique design and appearance helps it to stand out even when dwarfed by inner-city neighbours. As one of 10,000 arches that dissect neighbourhoods across London, it is a model that can be adapted for broad community benefit.
Though it's not selling for cheap (priced at £999,999 or USD $1,305,481), it speaks to "thinking out of the box" to solve the issue of housing and under-used urban infill -- and it's something that we've seen might be possible with housing made out of concrete tubes, abandoned windmills, silos and blank urban walls. To see more, visit Undercurrent Architects.