Focus on the sky garden: how gaming technology helped this east London couple double the size of their dream home. An innovative architectural designer tailor-made a young family’s dream home out of an uninhabitable shell in east London using gaming technology and 3D modelling. by Philippa Stockley.
Entrusting an architecture professional to convert or build you a home is a big, expensive step. However, you are also expecting them to create something you are really going to enjoy living in.
Architectural designer Ran Ankory, 44, co-director of Scenario Architecture in Islington, is fascinated by the effect a house can have on its inhabitants and concentrates on tailor-making homes, with meticulous attention to detail.
He put his distinctive approach into practice in 2013 when a couple with a toddler, whom he had met at the school gates, asked him to do their house.
They’d bought an uninhabitable Nineties live/work shell in a terrace in east London. It had a ground floor and beneath sloping eaves were a mezzanine room and basic bathroom. The interiors were rudimentary and there was no outside space.
The building was mainly made from concrete blocks, with a corrugated roof. The couple, an artist and an academic, wanted to enlarge it into a proper family home.
They were living in a small flat in Hackney and wanted a bigger family. Their new purchase had planning permission in place for a full-size first floor, plus a further floor and a roof terrace.
Ran asks people to write down “scenarios” that chart everything they do during the day, noting things they’d really like from their new home.
“Put down dreams, aspirations, feelings. If you would like to see the garden when you are in the shower, say so,” he says.
“Sometimes 10 pages of writing come back, which some architects would hate, but I’m very happy with.”
The couple’s written ideas showed that the only thing they actually liked about their existing small flat was the garden, so for the new home, creating a private, secluded garden — in this case it could only be on the roof — was essential.
Gaming technology and 3D modelling, resulting in 3D computer models with little figures, means you can see how everything works. Scenario now uses virtual reality, too, so you can “roam around” inside your prospective home.
The couple’s new home has three full-size floors plus a large cedar-clad roof terrace. The ground floor is given over to a high-spec self-contained two-bedroom flat to let out.
The upper two floors are the house proper, with three bedrooms and a bathroom on the lower floor, from which a wide, curvy, staircase sashays up to a vast, sunny living room with a corner kitchen. Over the sleek kitchen, steps rise to the decked roof terrace.