Circulation in residential buildings / The atrium | Lynas Smith

Circulation in residential buildings / The atrium

noun, plural a·tri·a [ey-tree-uh] /ˈeɪ tri ə/, a·tri·ums.
  1. Architecture .
    1. the main or central room of an ancient Romanhouse, open to the sky at the center and usually having a pool for the collection of rain water.
    2. a courtyard, flanked or surrounded by porticoes, in front of an early or medieval Christian church.
    3. a skylit central court in a contemporary building or house.


Arthaus, Warehaus and Monohaus all have one thing in common (besides the ‘haus’ thing) – they all have an atrium as the guiding principle of circulation.

The Arthaus, the first of our schemes in London Fields, Hackney, completed in 2011, was also the first time we used an atrium as circulation.  It was key in connecting the mixed-use concept, offices, restaurants and flats all sharing the same building and it became obvious for them to share a common volume.  The large space became a room in it self, hosting, for some time, a gallery, various exhibitions, it’s the home of the concierge and a break-out space for commercial and residential occupiers.

An exhibition in the Arthaus atrium


The Warehaus atrium came about as a response to the success of the Arthaus, without the same luxury of space on site, the atrium became a much narrower, tall space, culminating in a glass-bottomed swimming pool on the roof, although the atrium was designed to work without this little luxury it adds a quality of light to the space, moving shadows and the odd floating swimmer above.

The atrium at Warehaus with person swimming above.


Monohaus uses the atrium to provide small commercial units with access and communal break-out space, to connect two streets at either end of the site and let light into the lower ground.

Monohaus atrium, a view from the concierge desk

All three atria create a pleasurable way of moving through a building, they take away long, narrow, lifeless corridors and replace them with spaces that are usable and enjoyable to be in. They create opportunities for interaction and activity.



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