Architecture

Mechanical shutters control light and views in compact home office

Mechanical shutters control li...
Black Box is located on a cramped London plot
Black Box is located on a cramped London plot
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Black Box's shutters are clad in dark stained Siberian Larch
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Black Box's shutters are clad in dark stained Siberian Larch
Black Box is located on a cramped London plot
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Black Box is located on a cramped London plot
The winch mechanisms are self-locking, allowing the shutters to be left open at any point
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The winch mechanisms are self-locking, allowing the shutters to be left open at any point
Black Box's shutters offer fine control over light and views
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Black Box's shutters offer fine control over light and views
Black Box's shutters shade the extension when fully open
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Black Box's shutters shade the extension when fully open
Black Box's shutters are operated by hand crank
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Black Box's shutters are operated by hand crank
Black Box extends a Victorian-era terrace home
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Black Box extends a Victorian-era terrace home
Black Box's shutters, shown closed
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Black Box's shutters, shown closed
Black Box's shutters, shown slightly open
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Black Box's shutters, shown slightly open
Black Box's shutters were prefabricated by specialists in Scotland
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Black Box's shutters were prefabricated by specialists in Scotland
Inside Black Box 
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Inside Black Box 
The shutters are operated by two hand cranks
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The shutters are operated by two hand cranks
It takes six rotations to fully open or close Black Box's shutters
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It takes six rotations to fully open or close Black Box's shutters
Closeup shot of Black Box's hand crank 
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Closeup shot of Black Box's hand crank 
Black Box is situated in a cramped London plot 
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Black Box is situated in a cramped London plot 

After being commissioned to create an extension for a Victorian-era terrace in London, MATA Architects conceived a neat method of providing fine control over the amount of light inside and the privacy available. The firm installed a complex prefabricated shutter system that's controlled by hand crank.

"Situated on a dense urban site with neighboring buildings in close proximity, any proposed extension would be overlooked from multiple sides – a typical London situation," explains MATA Architects. "At the same time, driven by a desire to maximize natural daylight provision and celebrate key views across adjacent gardens, we wanted the new space to benefit from large windows. We asked ourselves, can we introduce large glazing whilst regulating levels of shading, natural daylight, privacy, and security at different times of the day?"

Black Box's shutters, shown closed
Black Box's shutters, shown closed

Named the Black Box, the extension was prefabricated in Scotland then shipped to the site, which previously hosted an old conservatory. From there, it took a week to install. It's clad in dark stained Siberian Larch and is topped by a green roof (not pictured).

Inside, the owners use a couple of hand cranks that are connected to a system of winches that in turn manipulate the shutters to get the desired amount of daylight. The space is usually used as a home office but the firm also added a small bathroom for when it's used as a guest bedroom.

It takes six rotations to fully open or close the shutters and the winch mechanisms are self-locking, allowing the shutters to be left open at any point. When fully open, they overhang to offer shade during summer.

Black Box is situated in a cramped London plot 
Black Box is situated in a cramped London plot 

Black Box was completed earlier this year and also involved Entuitive and Old School Fabrications. Check out the video below to see it in use.

Source: MATA Architects

Black Box by MATA Architects

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