Curved Kitchen for a Round House

Round houses were once all the rage (think mud huts, yurts and teepees).  Houses were built in the round because they offered strength against earthquakes, strong winds and heavy snow, and because they were quick to heat and simple to roof.

These days, modern building materials and fixings offer enough strength and stability to not have to deploy round exteriors for strength, and it is unusual to see one.  Not because the shape is unappealing aesthetically, but largely because the machinery that makes and shapes building materials such as steel, brick, glass, timber and stone is designed to produce it flat, square and straight.  Flat, square and straight is the default setting for most building material manufacturers, so it should be of no great surprise that design and manufacture of curved furniture takes longer and ultimately costs more.

Even the glass backsplash is curved.

 


This particular house is round because it has been inspired by the circular garage carousel upon which it sits, created to store the clients car collection.

Design Challenges – Designing A Kitchen in a Round House
The project has been designed in collaboration with Mark Gillette and for it to be authentic and a design success, it was first vital that all of the curved elements of the bespoke kitchen doors were actually curved, and not faceted.

This challenge is further compounded by the fact that the curve becomes tighter the nearer to the center of the roundhouse the furniture is positioned.  This means that the radius of the furniture doors in the scullery at the back of the kitchen is different (shallower) to the radius of the doors on the outside of the island (tighter).

Radius dimensions are 16.16 metres for the scullery, 15.32 for the glass splashback, 14.62 for the main kitchen furniture, 13.49 for the inside of the island and 12.09 for the outside of the island.

In addition to the varying radius dimensions, other challenges present themselves. Dishwashers and fridges have flat doors, raising the question of how you fix a curved furniture door to the face of a flat metal door?  Does the hinge on the appliance throw the curved door out far enough so that it doesn’t meet adjacent doors?  Hardly any of the joints meet at 90 degrees.  How do you clamp these items together at an angle?  Are the floor tilers using the same radius as you and will their floor radius match your plinth radius?  The glass backsplash needs to be specially curved. How do you set out the kitchen at the installation stage?


Artichoke’s creative design images of the desk area with doors open and closed. The right hand side of these images show the strength of the curved doors.

Materials
The primary material chosen for this kitchen is fumed Eucalyptus, typically found in Australia, New Zealand and Spain. The material is a light brown/golden yellow in its natural state, and it is made to go a deep chocolate brown colour by fuming it (a process using ammonia that causes a reaction with the tannins in the timber).

As you can see, the timber has a wonderful ripple running through it and great care and considerable time was chosen to source a pack of veneer that was even in colour throughout and maintained its ripple across the width of the kitchen.  As is often the case, we took the client to our veneer suppliers to advise and discuss the choice.

The Fumed Eucalyptus in Artichoke’s workshops before it is worked.

This video shows an Artichoke cabinet-maker bonding veneer onto one of the curved substrates using a vacuum bag-press. 

Production Engineering
At Artichoke, because our kitchens are so highly bespoke, we put every completed design through a process called Production Engineering.  This essentially means we are making the kitchen digitally into an accurately surveyed wire-frame model of the room.  This allows us to iron out every issue on computer first before any materials are purchased.

Images show the kitchen being digitally cabinet-made into the wire frame model of the room.   Once this process is complete and we are happy the kitchen works, we can use this software to produce making drawings for the cabinet-makers.

Cabinet Making
For quality control reasons, every bespoke kitchen we design is assembled at Artichoke’s workshops to ensure any issues are ironed out before we come to the installation phase.  This also gives us the opportunity to ensure that all of the appliances fit perfectly and that all of the door gaps are perfect.  Only then is the kitchen dis-assembled and finished in Artichoke’s high tech, air filtered finishing booths. 


Individually, the curve on each door is surprisingly slight, but when compounded it becomes more pronounced.

Installation Phase
Artichoke’s workshop environment is specifically set to domestic heat and humidity levels, so moving completed furniture into a non domestic environment is a potential danger.

The installation phase is often the most risky, and we take great care to ensure that our furniture is introduced to the building at the correct stage of the build.  We are particularly focussed on ensuring the relative humidity is appropriate (between 40 and 60%).  If humidity levels are under, it can cause the timber in the kitchen to shrink, causing cracking, gapping and surface checking.  If the humidity levels are above (which can be as a result of plasterers still working on the site), then it can encourage mould growth and buckling.    Solid timber is particularly vulnerable.


The house nearing completion.

The main sink elevation.


The double doors lead to the scullery.  The glass was also curved, as was the stone profile.  The stone has a textured surface.

 

Completed Project

If you are interested in curved kitchen design and would like to discuss a project with us, please contact Andrew or Bruce on +(0)1934 745270.

Villa Guglielmesca, Tuscany, Italy

Villa Guglielmesca is situated near the town of Cortona, in the province of Arezzo in Tuscany. While the prevailing character of Cortona’s architecture is medieval Renaissance, the villa itself dates back to the beginning of the 1900’s.  Originally a private house, it was transformed into a hotel with 12 bedrooms in the 1950’s before being purchased by the current owner.

 

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Villa Guglielmesca, Cortona, Arezzo, Tuscany, Italy (in 2011 before work started)
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The View from the Villa

In 2010, Artichoke was commissioned directly by the owner to reconfigure the Villa and make it function again as a private residence.  This has involved extensive interior architectural design work by Artichoke’s creative team and includes designing the architecture and furniture for the entrance hall, master bedrooms, bespoke kitchen, dining room, butler’s pantry, boot-room, guest and master bathrooms, ballroom, interior architectural joinery, doors, skirting and floors.

 

Front Entrance Door

The front entrace door was designed taking inspiration from the architecture of local vernacular. Our initial design below proposed the door as European Walnut, althoughthe door is now more likely to be hand painted.  The exterior elevation on the left shows the stone architrave which will be in Pietra Serena to match the the Tuscan columns we designed for the interior.  Pietra Serena is a beautiful grey Tuscan sandstone which was used by Michelangelo in the Medici Chapel Romeare.

 

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The splayed reveal August 2014, ready for plastering
Entrance Hall Design

Below is the Entrance Hall as it existed while Villa Guglielmesca was a hotel.   As you can see, the existing interior architecture of the Villa required significant design work.  Our initial focus was to research and gain a thorough understanding of local vernacular to create an appropriate space for family living.

 

The Villa’s entrance hall when it was a hotel

The images below show the approved Artichoke re-design of the entrance hall with twinned Etruscan columns supporting the vaulted ceiling and hiding the re-enforced concrete columns. The stone we are using fo the columns are made from Pietra Serena.

 

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Artichoke’s re-design of the entrance hall

 

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Plans show Artichoke’s architectural plans for the main hall

 

Bespoke Kitchen Interior Design

Artichoke’s design team also introduced the groin vaulted ceiling detail used in the entrance hall to the principal bespoke kitchen as both a device to architecturally tie the two ends of the vast space together and to frame the large open fireplace (also designed by us).

 

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The Villa’s kitchen space taken back to brick

Inspiration for the bespoke kitchen design in Villa Guglielmesca was taken from typical Tuscan agricultural furniture design.  The primary timber being used for the kitchen is French oak. The oak on the island will be bleached and the oak for the pan-shelves will be fumed to age them. The bread board island tops will be made from wild-grain European Walnut which we will source in Italy. The arched doors on the end of the island, which is plastered, are made from solid oak, and roughly hand planed across the grain with a curved plane blade to create an aged effect. The glazed dresser doors close on traditional espagnoletes.

 

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Image shows the two brick islands finished in rough finish lime render
Boot room Design

Artichoke’s design teams have designed numerous bespoke bootrooms for country properties and apart from plenty of storage, a key aspect to most successful bootroom designs is combining practicality with simplicity.  Bootrooms get a lot of wear. They get dirty and are more loved for their practicality than their looks, mainly because most of the fitted furniture becomes draped in coats, hats and scarves, and eventually much of it become invisible. Artichoke designed the Villa’s boot-room with drainage at the centre of the room to allow mud to be washed and brushed away.

 

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Artichoke’s design for the Villa’s bootroom
Kitchen Fireplace

Artichoke designed the fireplace and surround as a multi-functional space, and it is far from simply decorative.  A chargrill has been designed on the right hand side, with the left reserved for open fires and spit-roasting meats.  The stone for the surround is Pietra Serena.

 

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Shows the Artichoke designed fireplace being prepared in tandem with the groined ceiling, also designed by us
Interior Architecture

There are nearly 100 individual features designed by Artichoke inside Villa Guglielmesca, including coffered ceilings, fireplaces, windows, columns, doors and stone architraves.   A few examples can be seen below:

 

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Construction in progress of the groined ceiling in the Villa’s Limonaria

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Pietra Serena stone architrave being set into the Villa walls
One of the Artichoke designed Pietra Serena window surrounds

 

Installation Phase
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Artichoke’s European walnut vanity unit with walnut mirrors. The marble to be added will be Carrara
The Villa’s exterior showing the Pietra Serena windows and door frames designed by Artichoke. The shutters were make locally

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Walnut skirting was designed for the dining room
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Artichoke designed this simple linen store. Note the detail in the clay tiles at the threshold of the door

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Completed Project

A small selection of images from the completed project are below.

Kitchen

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Scullery

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Bootroom

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Guest WC

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Hallway Doors

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Selected Architectural Joinery

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