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Whiteford Studio and House

Half Moon Lane, SE24

in 'City Reborn. Architecture and Regeneration in London, from Bankside to Dulwich'

by Kenneth Powell

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'Half Moon lane is a leafy suburban street within the Dulwich Estate - not a natural habitat for new architecture. However, Cullum & Nightingale's studio, completed in 1999, and adjacent house, constructed from 2003 to 2004 for the artist Kate Whiteford and her husband, make a well-mannered but highly individual contribution to the local scene. On a small, awkwardly shaped site at the intersection of two roads, the architects have created a fusion of architecture and landscape, of internal and external space, which is essentially modern yet has clear roots in the Arts and Crafts tradition. There is more than a hint of Mackintosh in the house - Kate Whiteford is Scottish - and memories, too, of Africa - Whiteford worked with Cullum & Nightingale on a major artwork for the British High Commission building in Nairobi.

'The studio is a low-cost workspace - of brick with a copper-clad roof externally, one big volume internally - with a mezzanine covering a small kitchen and shower room. Two large north-facing dormer windows provide the necessary even light for painting. Studio and house enclose a small courtyard. The house forms a strong composition, with dormers on its eastern elevation connecting it visually to the studio, and a bold chimney stack with internal and external fireplaces. Constructed of brick, partly rendered, it is roofed in copper, with copper downpipes. Inside, the emphasis is on space and light. The full-height living space, like medieval hall, is its social heart, with subsidiary spaces opening off it, and bedrooms and bathrooms on the first floor accessed via an open gallery. A 'secret' stair, buried in the wall, connects the living room with the main bedroom above.

'With plenty of conviction but an absence of needless whimsy, Cullum & Nightingale have reinterpreted the suburban tradition in a thoroughly modern manner to create a house that must be as inspirational to live in as it is engaging to look at.'