Occupying the shell of a Huguenot silk weaver’s house, the Ofili house and studio is situated in Spitalfields. Silk-weaving took place on the top floor where there was more natural light than at street level. At a later stage, the lower floors were used as a shop and a storage space was built in the garden. In the latest recycling, the storeroom has been rebuilt as a painting studio and the silk-weaving space has become the main bedroom with a sleeping gallery. On the street, the change of programme is signalled by a folding and sliding screen.The studio receives natural light through the roof, constructed of glass pavement lights, and from a small court whose walls reflect sunlight through a glass screen. Artificial light is provided by fluorescent tubes and tungsten bulbs attached to the beams which support the roof.

Compared with the verticality of the original house, the studio and living areas have been organised as horizontal sequences of carefully differentiated spaces. The kitchen occupies a gallery that connects a sitting area, looking over the street, with the dining area. This glass extension opens directly onto the terrace formed by the roof of the studio and has a view of Christchurch Spitalfields, designed by Nicholas Hawksmoor, and the churchyard. Inspired by the materiality of the original staircase, the interior of the Ofili house is finished in natural (unpainted) plaster. Due to changes of use, it was necessary to continue the stair into the basement and up to the mezzanine. The lower extension engages with the architecture of the studio space and has concrete treads between solid walls; the upper extension is constructed of steel and the handrail demonstrates a similar fluidity to its historic counterpart.

Ofili House + Studio

London, 1999
Project Description