Do you remember picking up your first kaleidoscope as a kid?
While the outside appears plain, upon viewing the inside, you are in awe of the bursts of colour. This is similar to how we would describe the Replica House Studio project by Surman Weston Ltd. The team turned the historic building into a colourful co-working space that doubles as the architecture studio's own office.
This project comprises the reconfiguration and refurbishment of a former Victorian Methodist church into a generous open-plan co-working space.
Harlequin-patterned panes of glass in muted green, blue, orange and red have been inserted into the gaps between the beams of the gabled roof and on either side of a white metal stairway that hangs above the floor.
"The diamond motif used here echoes the geometry of the existing timber trusses, while the stained glass panes reference the building's past as a place of worship," said architects Tom Surman and Percy Weston, who named the project Replica House Studios.
"The aesthetic of the project was derived from the existing timber trusses. Sandblasting to remove the many layers of paint applied over the last 130 years revealed the remarkable texture of the original timbers," they added.
"This led to the idea of creating a canvas of textures, all in white, against which the colourful stained glass elements are offset."
The architectural interventions are inserted into the main double-height space like large-scale pieces of furniture, subtly delineated from the original building fabric in a series of textured materials all rendered in white.
The brief for Replica House Studios was to turn the roof space of a former methodist church into a temporary co-working space that can later be turned into a house for the clients.
"The concept embraced the dual purpose required in the brief," explained the architects.
"Rather than designing a studio that could subsequently be transformed into a home, it combines the warmth of materiality that you might find in a home, with the size and flexibility that is required in a studio or office."
Two half floors have been inserted at either end of the room, leaving the central space open to the high ceiling, where wide clerestory windows under the eaves let daylight stream through on both sides.
An open-plan area on the lower level is currently filled with desks and workstations, with bookshelves lining the back wall.
A kitchen and bathroom have been inserted under one of the mezzanine levels. When the studios are converted into a home this space can become a living area, with a dining table placed in the central open space and a cosy seating area created under the opposite mezzanine.
Currently the top floors have been appropriated as a model making studio and a meeting room with access to a roof terrace, but can be repurposed as a master bedroom and a study respectively.
The stained glass screen has been made full length for the future bedroom for added privacy, continuing down through the sides of the suspended staircase. The screen on the platform across the way has been left as a half-height balcony railing, and a wooden staircase provides access.
Privacy is introduced for the mezzanine spaces by the means of a large patterned stained glass window and dramatic glazed hanging stair – a nod to the building's past life as a church – allowing light to flow through the series of interlinked spaces.
If given a choice to work in this bright, airy and playful co-working space we would jump at the opportunity. Thank you to Surman Weston architecture studio for sharing this beautiful project with us, a colourful surprise hidden behind a historic facade.