Client: Private
Budget: N/A
Location: Islington
Status: Completed, 2018
Structural: Entuitive
Specialist Fabricator: Old School Fabrications
Photography/Film: Peter Landers

Black Box is a small first floor rear extension to a mid terrace Victorian era house in Islington. Our client, a couple, wanted a space that could function both as a home office and occasional guest bedroom with en suite bathroom.

Situated on a dense urban site with neighbouring buildings in close proximity, any proposed extension would be overlooked from multiple sides – a typical London situation. 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?

The extension is conceived as a ‘reconfigurable box’ in dark stained Siberian Larch. Two bespoke counterbalanced shutters are manually operated internally using winches. These allow for multiple configurations of the ‘box; from fully open with window overhang to counter summer solar gain, to shut tight.

The dynamic nature of the façade encourages the user to interact with the architecture and adapt their environment for comfort.



Client Testimonial

“We loved the idea of the first floor as this dynamic black box that could be reconfigured and were delighted that, following a lengthy and, at times, delicate planning process, MATA was able to obtain full consent. While the consent included the ground-floor extension we chose to prioritise and phase the works, beginning with the first floor.

MATA prepared detailed drawings and specifications for tenders, which they invited and managed. They negotiated savings with contractors on our behalf and administered the building contract. While the construction phase was bumpy at times, they remained professional throughout and a genuine ally. We now have a beautiful and highly functional, if rather unconventional, first-floor extension.”

— Marc F


Enki Magazine – “In the balance”, p.20. June 2019

Self Build and Design Magazine – “Quirky Spaces – Interactive Black Box”. July 2020.

House Beautiful – “Flatpack Extensions”. September 2020.

The Times – “Extensions that will actually make your life bigger and better”, by Martina Lees. March 2019.

Dezeen – “Large mechanical shutters cover windows of Black Box extension by MATA Architects”, by Alyn Griffiths. April 2019.

Design Boom – “MATA Architects incorporates dynamic ‘black box’ extension into Victorian house in London”, by Sofia Lekka Angelopoulou. March 2019.

BD Online – “MATA Architects puts Black Box on the record”, by Jim Dunton. March 2019.

Architects’ Journal – “Shutters animate London extension by MATA Architects”, by Fran Williams. March 2019.

Arch Daily – “Black Box Apartment / MATA Architects”, by Paula Pintos. June 2019.
Enki Magazine – “In the balance”, p.20. June 2019.

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