Skene Catling’s most recent building for Lord Jacob Rothschild on his Buckinghamshire estate is a brie-shaped wedge clad in flint. The flint is meticulously arranged by colour, getting darker towards the pointy nose of the building. Flint, a material rarely used in contemporary architecture, is employed as a direct reference to the flint-filled soil and chalk that make up the local landscape. It is as if this building has risen from the soil, and the unusual but beautiful appearance is fitting for the visiting curator who Lord Rothschild intended it for. This building, as with her many other private commissions has been hugely successful with the client and the architectural elite, winning RIBA’s House of the Year for 2015.
While the Flint House is unusual in itself, it is not an anomaly within Skene Catling’s portfolio, in fact she seems to specialise in creative and challenging briefs. Previous projects include Hidden House, which involved tunnelling a quarry-like void into a very steep and remote piece of land in Formentera, and a boat called Intolerance for a filmmaker. Skene Catling has channelled her flair into more mainstream projects too, including a new shoe department at Selfridges and the renovation of the Grade II listed terraces for Robin Birley’s 5 Hertford Street.
Skene Catling co-founded Skene Catling de la Peña architects in 2003, and alongside designing, she writes for various architectural publications and lectures at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) in Germany.