Loft Library

The challenge was to provide a substantial contemporary room in the roof, with an external terrace to take advantage of the sea view whilst creating the minimum impact on an existing Victorian Terrace.

The brief was to add a new Library in the existing roof space to house a collection of 1500 architecture and art books, many of them oversized and requiring purpose-built shelving. The existing volume only allowed an area of 60m², 3m high in the centre with bookcases and plan-chests in the eaves.

The new room was designed to be light and airy, with high levels of natural light and the ability for natural cross-ventilation. The requirement for the room was to provide a sense of repose and wellbeing, conducive to meditation and relaxation. In addition, the space was to be contemporary but not feel alien to the remainder of the house, which retains most of its original features. This provided a challenge, as the new stair required a complex "cut-out" of two rooms on the first floor and retaining all the original features in those rooms to arrive at the correct point on the top floor.

The simplicity of the space betrays its engineering complexity. The roof's new structure was complicated further because of the lack of walls below that could take any support and required over 8 tonnes of steel.

The star of the scheme is the bookcase above the stair, whose oak bookshelves and plan chests are all bespoke and provide the focus and drama to the space.

The work did not require planning consent and was achieved under permitted development.