5 British Firms - Architectural Record

July 2009

Text Rory & Barbara Campbell-Lange
Images Nick Kane, Níall McLaughlin

The form of Níall McLaughlin’s Shack, a photographer’s pondside retreat in Northamptonshire, England, grew from ideas about abandoned military machines in the neighboring aerodrome, as well as the insect and aquatic subjects of the client’s camera lens. Metal canopies extending from the roof flex in the wind as if readying for flight, while the Shack appears to hover at the water’s edge. The sense of place created by the building, the pond, and the clustered trees and plants recalls the English notion of genteel countryside. Like a folly in a Picturesque landscape, the building draws the eye.

The builder agreed to construct the Shack for £15,000 ($24,000) on the condition that the architect prepare no construction drawings. Instead, McLaughlin, 37, placed a large model on the site. The building’s luminescent interior is lit from multiple sources that leave overlapping patterns on the walls. Square apertures open toward the reflective pond and serve as photographic sets for tiny plants and creatures.

Níall McLaughlin’s other projects include a 1997 house in Knightsbridge, London, and an addition to a Carmelite monastery in Kensington, London, completed between 1991and 1997. His extension to the De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill, England, recently won a competition, and he was named Young British Architect of the Year in 1998 by Building Design magazine.

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