Avenue Road (despite the name) is a laneway in Portobello with a series of industrial units and garage doors. It’s not a hostile place, but it’s shuttered and locked up. A residential element was introduced to the lane with the three mews houses inserted by ODOS Architects (completed in 2009), taking the back ends of the plots set out by three houses on Bloomfield Avenue.
The mews houses each have three bedrooms, split-level acommodation and a total of 190m² in area. They present a tough, solid exterior to the lane, with a painted metal base below a screen of layered industrial flooring planks concealing a first-floor exterior space. The architects’ title for the project is ‘Moiré Moiré Moiré’ and it’s apt when approach the housing: a moiré pattern is the interference pattern caused by two overlapping grids, and that’s just what you get. It’s successful too in managing to both reference a delicate aesthetic (like lace or woven fabrics) and meet the industrial context without ostentatious moves, using the planks in varying widths and layers to give a rhythm and movement to the screens.
At the rear – the between-houses-and-mews rear – each of the three steps down to a small yard, glazed and much more open on this side. The interior photographs reveal bright living spaces with outdoor rooms, shadows and light play. The movement across split levels appears to allow an attractive complexity without losing light or openness.