Lightbox House

The Lightbox House is a home with a twist: it can be customized and adapted to suit different lifestyles and budgets. You can choose to have two, three or four bedrooms and, as the household expands, so can the house, with the addition of a rooftop pod providing an extra bedroom or workspace. Above all, it’s a lovely house to live in: shaped to draw in the light with big windows at front and back, configured for easy, open-plan living, providing lots of space for living in and providing lots more for storing clutter.

The project came about when igloo Regeneration asked Ash Sakula to become one of six ‘home manufacturers’ for a pilot site in Pool, Cornwall. We teamed up with a timber frame manufacturer and a local builder and developed a product which we call the Lightbox House. 

Because Ash Sakula’s work has a strong affinity for its end-users and their experience of the places we make, it came naturally to us to work with a procurement process that more intimately involves the eventual occupant. We weren’t just designing a concept though. We knew that we had to make the customisation experience easy and interesting for purchasers, so we set up the Lightbox House website to make the process simple and accessible:

A close-up detail of the facade at the entrance to one of the upper apartments. Profiled translucent fibreglass back by silver foil, with strands of electrical cable in the interstices. Chain link fencing surrounds each upper flat's terrace.

Being briefed to produce two-bedroom apartments, each measuring just 67m², precipitated a re-appraisal of the spatial priorities of the traditional small flat, which resulted in an unconventional but extremely workable configuration.

The dwellings are identically arranged around an enlarged hallway where the space is both light and complex - anything but a corridor. It is large enough to hold a desk or daybed, a place to sort laundry or an area for children to play.

Bedrooms are kept as small as possible. Clothes, for example, are stored elsewhere. While the kitchen is the main social space of the flat, the living room is a cosy (with)-drawing room that can also be a home office or guest room.

Bathrooms and WCs are separate. Each is spacious, has a large basin and an opening window.

The plan above was made at competition stage.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Read more about the thinking behind this project:

The corrugated cladding set against silver foil creates lavender and turquoise reflections. In the corrugation's interstices are suspended twisted strands of black and white electrical cabling, adding to the kinetic parallax illusion created as one passes the buildings - an effect developed by Ash Sakula in collaboration with the artist Vinita Khanna.

A few weeks after the residents moved in we received this painting from the Brewer family. It said, "Thank you for our incredible home." In an accompanying letter the Brewers wrote, "... we have never seen anything better designed for us as a family. Thank you for all your thoughtful hard work."

Animators Wrench & Franks made a short video of the project. Here is a still from the closing sequence.

Architect and Client: Ash Sakula Architects and Lightbox House Ltd


Three-bedroom house: 90 sq m

Four-bedroom house: 116 sq m

Value: around £220,000

Appointed: 2014