T H E B L A C K B O X
BY DR. C. KAPPUS-OPPLER. PHOTOGRAPHS BY WALTER KOBER
The ‘Black Box’ is a house that plays tricks on the eye. Its facade has been re-imagined by its new owner, a philosopher, to reflect a favourite theme: the concept of ‘mise-en-abîme’. The light-absorbing black paint of the in-fill-house squeezed between two conventional period properties creates the illusion of an absence between two presences. This illusion is repeated by the choice of window treatment. The photo-blinds behind the tall narrow windows depict images of clear sky, thus creating the double-mirroring effect of a gap within a gap, an absence within an absence.
The outwardly unassuming three-bedroom house also provides internal surprises. Behind the extra-wide entrance door a narrow hall opens up into a number of large open spaces flooded with light provided by a central well extending across three floors. The architect Mark Grzegorczyk of MG Architects who designed the house in 2008 made ingenious use of the original plot, creating a veritable Tardis out of a sliver of land which once housed a garage and his own architectural practice. The light well is encased by floor to ceiling windows in black aluminium frames, permitting a view from every room in the house on to a dramatic Living Wall that stretches from the basement tiled courtyard patio to the top of the house. The patio is accessible through large sliding doors from the kitchen and its adjoining second sitting room and is also spanned by a bridge walkway at ground floor level, allowing passage from one section of the house to another. Appropriate to the tastes of its owner, the atmosphere is nevertheless one of complete privacy and seclusion, even when looking out of the window whilst relaxing in the master bedroom’s bathtub at the at the greenery of the wall plants across to the trees in the neighbouring gardens.
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