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homify 360°: Cascade house

Alissa Ugolini—homify UK Alissa Ugolini—homify UK
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Ingrained in our minds as children is the saying Never judge a book by its cover, and rightfully so. These days, with the advancement in engineering and architectural technologies, you can never be certain what lies behind closed doors. Cascade house is one of those scenarios. A grade II heritage listed building located in the very heart of London's Hampstead village, the historically significant exterior is very very different to what you will find inside.

In close consultation with local conservationists and authorities, the architects at Patalab, have successfully retained the historical facade, and created a project which is a truly wonderful juxtaposition between old and new worlds. Little would you know, that this space has been converted into a large two bedroom home, with additional retail space on the ground floor. Take a look…


There you have it—a quintessential and beautiful red brick English building facade. But wait, you know there is more. As mentioned earlier, this photos provides an image of the beginnings of the project—the external wrapping paper of a present, so to speak. And, in the same fashion, as you peel back the layers, it will reveal a surprise waiting inside. Part of taking on a historical building is to ensure that whatever changes you make are inconspicuous and unassuming. You cannot ruin, or alter the streetscape in anyway.

What lies beneath

This axonometric drawing allows you see the true glory of the design. With elements that are not at all visible from the outside, this skeletal and stripped back model helps you to understand why the building has taken on the name of Cascade House. Aptly titled, you can see the drop and sway of the different levels and spaces which cascade between the plot of land. This is rare gem, and indeed a ground breaking example of a refit in a heritage listed plot.

A minimalists delight

And now, the grand reveal. In a complete rejection of the exterior, you can see exactly what we meant. Strong architectural lines and geometry dominate the kitchen space, with the staircase to the left taking centre stage. For us, this was truly what we least expected—we thought, at least, to see some features or details from the buildings previous life. This is not the case. There is absolutely no dialogue between the inside and outside spaces, and this is exactly what makes the building exciting and unique.

Light it up

The largely white colour palette helps to reflect and refract the flow of light from the available sources. Fittingly, the dark timber floors are highlighted ever so subtly by the black wooden balustrade. This element helps to frame the space, creating a point of difference between walls and functional areas. This staircase is an important feature in the home—it is the origin behind the name cascade, and one connecting element between the various spaces.


A glimpse to the outside world, this roof light aids the dwelling in bringing through some much needed natural light. Despite being a very modern exterior element, because it it located on the ceiling, it is not visible to the outside world. This is a clever way to let light penetrate the building in an sneaky and unobtrusive manner. This skylight is more important than you think—the architects are not at liberty to cut and add windows and doors to the outside of house.

Material finishes

We know you were wondering about that mysterious dark stained timber panelling, as it is a true standout feature in the home. Played off as an opposing factor against the stark white walls, it only increases the minimalist and modern feel the entire house employs. The surface of the wood has been sandblasted so as to highlight the intricacy and uniqueness of the grain. A wonderful final touch on an already outstanding project.

To see another exciting architectural project see ’A bold take on a New York penthouse’.

What do you think about this bold taken on modernity and history? Is this a project you would consider undertaking?
Whitton Drive:  Terrace house by GK Architects Ltd

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