Architect Sophie Hicks, founder of Sophie Hicks Architects, explains how natural light animates her simple-yet-sophisticated London home.
“It’s a very, very compact design,” Hicks, a former editor at Tatler and Vogue fashion magazines, says. “We thought about every square centimeter to get everything to work as well as it can. It’s a bit like a quiet machine.”
By choosing large window panes, Hicks designed her house to reflect the character of the neighborhood while also letting in natural light. She opted to forgo finishes in order to let the house’s concrete structure shine.
“I like you to be able to see how a place is built. I like you to be able to see the real materials, feel the real materials,” Hicks says. “I don’t like decoration in the same way I don’t like wearing makeup. I just prefer things a bit raw.”
At night, the home places with light in a different way: Instead of letting natural light in, the house itself glows. Hicks chose soft, indoor lights that gives the home an almost a nightlight effect.
See the entire home tour by watching the video.
You look up and you see a pane of glass with a stocker house reflected in it from way down the street. You look through that stocker reflection and you see some tree leaves. You feel really cocooned and you would never imagine that Alscot Road is so close.
I like buildings to become animated and I think light animates, particularly in this house. You’ve got the very strong light coming in the day in bright shafts, I think it’s quite nice and it’s quite rare in London to have this quality of light, even in winter.
First of all you have to think about how it is going to sit amongst the houses that are around it. From the street the glass house sort of hovers above the recreated 19th century garden wall. And it’s quite discrete but it’s certainly, completely of now. It’s completely contemporary.
It’s a very, very compact design. We thought about every square centimeter to get everything to work as well as it can. It’s a bit like a quiet machine.
You’ll notice the finishes are non-existent. The structure of the house is the finish. I like you to be able to see how a place is built. I like you to be able to see the real materials, feel the real materials. I don’t like dedication in the same way I don’t like wearing makeup. I just prefer things a bit raw.
I love living with not much around me. I like not being distracted by the lots of bits and pieces. But I have nowhere in this house for my books. So they’ve all gone to a storage unit, where they’re on racks, stacked. If I need a book and can go and get, but I have no bookcases here.
Something occurred to me the other day. I like to do buildings that glow at night. And I realized that’s what I’ve done here. In this house, you need to have an interesting light at night. You need to animate the space and animate the structure in a different way to give it life.