Doorways disguised as mirrors, secret corners, moving walls and yurt-shaped rooms feature in these four elaborate London townhouses that architect Peter Salter has been crafting for the last 13 years.

Walmer yard was commissioned by developer Crispin Kelly to demonstrate the potential of peter salter’s drawing, design, and engineering skills. Peter Salter is an architect and teacher whose work has influenced several generations of students. The culmination of ten years of planning, Walmer Yard is his first residential project in the UK and one of only a small number of buildings he has completed worldwide. Although modest in scale, the project is extraordinary in many ways.

© Hélène Binet.

The project comprises four crafted houses in london’s notting hill district. within the scheme, a variety of volumes and materials create rooms and circulation spaces that allow for domestic use, as well as private peace and sensory experience.

Lacing an emphasis on suitability and functionality — rather than ease of construction, convenience, or cost — the design is intended as an alternative to contemporary domestic architecture. the scheme employs a combination of new, old, and non-standard materials, a method of experimentation that required a high standard of craftsmanship. as a result, hand-made, on-site fabrication is prevalent across the site.

© Hélène Binet.

Each house within the interlocking plan has been cast from in-situ poured concrete, and is organized around an acoustically engineered timber-lined courtyard positioned away from the street. at the uppermost level, a series of timber yurt-shaped structures  known as ‘sky catchers’ are finished with weathered copper roof tiles that pick up the asymmetrical forms of the structure. These structures aim to recreate the tradition of roof top dining rooms in sixteenth century country houses.

Internally, each floor is an single unrestricted span supported by the rectangular and elliptical stairwells. this is intended to ensure internal flexibility, while permitting light deep into each room. each space contains a piece of black architectural furniture: a bathroom, toilet, or cupboard, constructed from steel, and finished with beeswax.

Parmarbrook were the structural engineer on the project and are honoured to have been involved in delivering this exceptional development to completion.

Client: Crispin Kelly, Seb Kelly
Principal designer: Peter Salter
Collaborators: Mole Architects
Structural engineers: Parmarbrook
Main contractor: Shaw Building Group (Daren Bye, David Tofts)