The so-called "Roominaroom" project by London-based architects atmos studio won a 2013 UK Wood Award yesterday for its extraordinary level of craftsmanship — from computer-milled, cut and fitted ornamental oak beams to precision joinery — for a renovated flat in the city.
The project is more or less what its name makes it sounds like: an insanely detailed wooden room has been inserted into another room on the topmost floor of the apartment, spreading out into the rest of the structure with intricate vine-like beams and a beautifully polished, inlaid floor.
As the architects write, "The clients for this small residential jewel have an expanding family but fixed walls. Since they couldn't expand upwards or outwards, they had to expand inwards."
Even the construction process itself sounds pretty awesome: "The room arrived in the back of a truck, flat-packed and rapidly unfolded into a set of submillimetre-perfect digitally-fabricated ribs that were connected and erected within a day." It is "a CNC-carved kit of timber parts." Over the holidays next month, as you slowly piece together that tabletop puzzle with your family, try to imagine what it'd be like putting this together.
It was all unpacked and snapped together again like a 3D puzzle built by a race of machine-enabled octopi, all weird curves and unexpected inlays.
Handrails become the front strip for a wall of in-built bookshelves and the floors themselves curl up, become walls and storage cupboards, and arch away again as spray of ribs across the ceiling.
Here are just a bunch of pictures from the project — the final image, below, reveals the wooden platform of a double bed for the home's owners — showing that computer-assisted carpentry is perhaps the surest sign that old arts & crafts never really disappear completely, they just come back thoroughly transformed by new technologies. [Wood Awards / atmos studio]