The British Homes Awards


Living with Less

David Liddicoat and Sophie Goldhill carried out the whole of this project themselves, from finding the site through planning, design, construction and manufacture of the fittings, fixtures and furniture. The Shadow House is their own home, but it is also an experiment in creating a generic, small city house, and tests their ideas on living with less.

The project was only feasible if the home could be very small, very simple and built on an affordable piece of land, and that would be a significant challenge in the capital. The pair eventually discovered a derelict garage site in Camden of just 36 sq m. It was in a conservation area and the previous owner had gone through a number of unsuccessful attempts to win planning permission, but as a result the site’s value was depressed.

The designers took a careful, collaborative approach to gaining planning permission, developing the design in close conversation with the council’s officers. The maximum envelope for the building was determined by its relationship to surrounding buildings; many ancient lights overlooked the site.

The greatest debate took place over the building’s external appearance. The conservation lobby demanded that the house should reflect its tough, industrial-era context. The designers proposed dutch-format engineering brick with a black glazed finish, resembling the cut face of coal. This was contrasted with sheer frameless glazing, and with accents of white statuarietto marble, echoing the plaster reveals and porticoes of surrounding Victorian architecture.

As the designers were working to a tight budget, they carried out as much work as they could themselves and limited their palette to primary materials. Larch glulam beams are laid directly into the brickwork to support roof and floor structures. Floors are in-situ polished concrete. Larch blockboard panels form a backlit coffered ceiling to the living and bedroom, and line the deep internal reveals to form window seats.


Liddicoat & Goldhill LLP
Babel Studio One
7 St Pancras Way
Tel: 0207 380 0977
Contact: David Liddicoat