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The Perfection of Perf: Bringing Light to London

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SEEN often wonders what visitors from much sunnier climes than ours make of the way we use light in our homes. So it was with great interest that we learned of the Perf House by AMA, the design of which was driven by clients whose brief was to bring some of the light quality and openness of their native Sardinia to central London. The scope involved the complete removal off all existing internal elements of this petite 5-storey Georgian terrace house in Pimlico, leaving a 6-sided internal volume. AMA then re-imagined the spaces within to deliver a new home environment with transparency and connection, materiality and texture, light and shadow, excitement and tranquility.

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A restrained palette of industrial materials – raw concrete and raw steel, combine with refined glass, timber and carefully detailed plasterwork to create a relaxed but crisp interior. To solve the issue of a dark and unwelcoming basement level so common in this type of building, AMA introduced a ground floor made up entirely of pavement lights, common, but unappreciated on every London commercial street – repurposed here to allow natural light and activity to connect the first two levels of the building.

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From the basement level a handmade steel staircase connects to the ground floor and then works its way up to the first floor, at which point the solid steel plates transform into a perforated metal spine which cuts right through the building to the top floor. This use of the perforations throughout the house helps to intensify the light through various aperture dimensions.

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Established in 2000 and based in London, AMA is a new generation architectural practice. The studio incorporates architects, interior designers, furniture, lighting, and product designers. Andy Martin, who has worked with some illustrious names in design and creative fields, has created some of the most memorable spaces in London and around the globe, including homes for Noel Gallagher and Olga Polizzi. His commercial projects include a long list of restaurants in London and around the world including his work with Kurt Zdesar on Fucina; Barrafina, Mash, and Isola Restaurants in London; Chan Restaurant in Thessaloniki, Greece; and Villa Zevaco in Casablanca. AMA is presently working in New York City on a new flagship store for Richard James, Savile Row.

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“Our mission at AMA is to carry out ambitious building projects at multiple scales and programmes, with a commitment to innovation, design and sustainability. We build within the city as if it is our own, and we are proud of the result and conscious of the effect that our buildings have on both the city around and the inhabitants within.’’

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SEEN is refreshed by this attitude. Too often, architects seem to design buildings that eschew human habitation. In a city that is reinventing itself constantly and the pressure on living space forces ever more innovative solutions, it is to be hoped that AMA will inspire other architectural practices to follow suit.

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