In London, the idea of the perfect home is often about trying to escape the city while embracing the outdoors. “Culturally, British always been seen as a nation of gardeners obsessively mowing lawns and pruning roses,” says Will Burges, a director of the London-based 31/44 architects.
“The English garden is a different animal now,” he says, favouring a stronger connection to interior spaces, water features that mask urban noise, ‘outdoor rooms’ with lounge furniture, built-in barbecues and even external kitchens.
The omnipresence of the courtyards at 31/44 Architects’ No 49 house in London
In the No. 49 house, designed by 31/44 architects and longlisted for the 2017 Royal Institute of British Architects House of the Year Award, three garden courtyards bring the outside closer to home. “No. 49 embraces the outdoor life,” says Burges. Hidden behind a wall to the street, the front courtyard provides a space for plants and western light for the main living space, which is also connected to a larger courtyard behind. “In this courtyard you escape the city,” says Burges, “Reclining on a low Danish chair relaxing to the sound of the water feature.”
Over the years, Burges has witnessed a shift in British design values when it comes to the perfect home. Working with “generic housing stock with little variety”, just subtle variations seemed to satisfy. “There even seemed to be a reluctance to stand out from the crowd,” says Burges.
Recent years have seen a return to a desire for greater privacy, this time through simple, more flexible design elements. “Much like the broad culture of London itself, the interior trend is for an eclectic global mix of furniture and accessories,” says Burges.