Many homeowners would go out of their way to not live near a graveyard. But that wasn’t the case for the necropolis-loving residents of this modern home, which backs onto London’s Highgate Cemetery. Even the rooftop hedge is cut into the shape of tombstones.
So when the macabre-loving homeowners tapped Denizen Works to update the midcentury home’s facade, they requested a design concept that went a little dark. The result? A dramatic vertical screen made of scorched slats of larch wood.
Cracked and scarred, the charred wood has a particular texture, with the natural pattern of the grain enhanced by its trial by fire.
"This wood, as dead as we could make it, reflects our clients interest in the macabre," said project architect Andrew Ingham. "In charring the larch, the surface bears the act of a trauma, but in a very beautiful way."
This traditional wood-burning technique is a traditional Japanese method known as Shou Sugi Ban. It’s been used for centuries to protect wood from insects and rot. With this home, the process is partially about aesthetics, to help help catch the eye with a strong vertical rhythm, holding the home together with the ghost of the original underneath the new exterior.