Christopher Dyvik is at Home

On the edge of Victoria Park in east London, the architect Christoffer Dyvik found himself a tiny derelict building, at the end of a tree lined street of terraced houses. The building was dilapidated, and had a colourful past as a local brewery, horse stables, musical studio, a taxi-hub and lastly a kind of temporary shelter. The ‘building’, if one could call it that had rotting ceilings, its windows missing, and there was no water, electricity nor sewage system. Parts of the wall had to be rebuilt, and imagining this as a house entailed starting from square one.

The whole world seems to have been investing in the London property market for the past few decades, -so in order to get one’s foot across the doorstep as a home owner in this city- one has to be creative.’I found this pile which had the potential to be my own home one day, if only I put it back together again, in the right order’ that is.’

The project became a kind of professional experiment for the young architect. But as most of his colleagues will agree, “creative and playful solutions tend to be a result of certain basic constraints.” The local council agreed to sell the property to Chris as long as the refurbishment was done with a certain empathetic streak, and the necessary approvals and papers were in order on time.

The new floor plan is not very complicated. There is one room upstairs and one room downstairs; and then,- one right in between. That is,- the bathtub has been lowered into the bedroom floor, above the bathroom on the ground floor. Right next to the bathroom are the blue stairs, the focal point and nucleus of the house, that connects everything.

Upstairs and downstairs. He built them himself. The house is the the framework, or rather, the framework is the house with the two large spaces, each of which has a distinct spatial quality, but not necessarily a clear function.

There are books in the kitchen, a bathtub in the bedroom floor, and a hammock in the sitting room. Like the inhabitant himself, it is a space always accomadating, and always open to change.

It is a bit like being at our cottage, he says..’there is always something to do, to fix up or repair, which I rather enjoy!’ He also enjoys the silence provided by the location and his own quiet ways, the calmness only broken by a sudden need to paint the stairs or finish the last coat of liquid membrane.

 ’-The house is still not finished, of course, but I look upon it as a kind of latent potential or a work in progress, rather than something that should have been finished yesterday— I continue to dream about the kitchen doors, heavy velvet curtains keeping the chilly London nights out, and a future gazebo in the backyard which may, one day, become some sort of a garden.

 Christoffer Dyvik is Norwegian, but lives and works in London. Together with partner Max Kahlen, he runs Dyvik Kahlen Architects. DKA operates across several sectors and in various scales in the UK, Holland, Germany and Norway, collaborating with clients in public institutions, artists, curators and private individuals.

As part of his practice, Chris contributes to the academic discourse as a critic and lecturer for leading academic institutions in London and abroad. Currently he and Max are both teaching a Master Course at The Royal College of Art.