David Stanley and Romy Grabosch are both experienced architects and have worked on prestigious projects all over the globe. When they came to build their own home, they wanted to create something completely unique of exceptionally high quality.
David and Romy share a passion for experimenting with materials, colours and textures. Romy has a yen for interior design, and likes to lavish attention on the minutiae – the details, texture and materiality that characterise a space.
As an architect, David has specialised in exclusive residential and mixed-use developments, working to the mantra that “life is too short for bad design decisions”. Which made the decisions for the couple’s own home no less challenging.
Ethical and personal responsibility
“Designing your own home means staying true to yourself, since you’re going to have to live day in, day out with your decisions. The materials you use and how you aspire to live help to define who you are and how you live your life,” he explains.
“Countless hours of reflection and painstaking study went into every single decision. It’s an intriguing process in that you’re confronted with yourself. The decisions we finally made reflect both our background and our aspirations.”
Green home in the urban jungle
David grew up in a small town in Canada, surrounded by forest. Although the family lives in London, he is keen for his growing children to have a connection with timber and other natural elements.
“As architects, and as parents, we have a moral obligation to design sustainable buildings for coming generations. We have to teach them about different materials, so that they can make wise decisions for themselves and the environment,” enthuses David.
A natural breathing space
It was also important for David to create a space in which the occupants don’t feel shut away indoors, but where the home integrates with the outdoor setting, in this case, the garden.
“The actual vision for the extension was to soften the transition between interior and exterior through smart use of wooden materials, glazing and daylighting. Using natural wood makes the whole strucure more grounded and dynamic, while it also provides the unique look that will age and develop over the years – just like its occupants. It reconnects people with the natural world, providing a sense of calm and liberation – a breathing space – which is invaluable in a stressful urban existence.”
As architects, the couple know all about the importance for design and performance of using quality materials. They soon settled on Kebony.
“We went for the charred Kebony because it is an environment-friendly, high-grade material with a unique, distinctive appearance. And when we started working it, it exceeded all our expectations. For us, as architects, this is truly an amazing material to work with, and absolutely ideal for exterior cladding,” they explain.
“This material offers design duality. It’s a protective exterior that shields the home from the elements, but it’s also a work of art in itself.”
Won prestigious design award
The couple’s striking Kebony extension won first prize in the ‘Housing Exterior Surface’ category at last year’s Surface Design Awards. The Surface Design Awards recognise and celebrate the best use of innovative surface materials internationally, and entries are judged by type of material, application and project design aesthetics.
Traditional Japanese technique
The Kebony wood used by David and Romy undergoes an exceptional treatment. The UK-based Shou Sugi Ban company uses ancient Japanese techniques for giving Kebony timber a distinctive appearance. Shou Sugi Ban is a Japanese term meaning “burnt cedar board”. Shou Sugi Ban sells both Kebony Clear and Character, which are treated using this technique, and the result is a wood product with unique character, embodying intriguing colouration and structures.