Unknown Works creates "otherworldly" music studio in London garden

Architecture studio Unknown Works has completed Shou Sugi Bangers, a sunken music studio clad in charred timber, which sits in the garden of a London home.

Designed for an electronic music producer, the soundproof studio is playfully named after its scalloped Accoya wood cladding, which has been charred using the Japanese technique of Shou Sugi Ban.

Exterior of Shou Sugi Bangers music studio in London garden
Unknown Works has completed Shou Sugi Bangers

Both internally and externally, the studio is intended as an immersive sound space and retreat. The cladding is arranged in an undulating formation, forming a series of nooks where the owner is encouraged to sit and listen to natural sounds in the garden.

According to Unknown Works, noises such as wind and birdsong are enhanced and altered by the CNC-milled surfaces of the cladding, which transition from minute grooves, reminiscent of vinyl records, to a smoother reflective surface at ear height.

Charred-timber exterior of Shou Sugi Bangers by Unknown Works
The sunken music studio is clad in charred timber

“We wanted to extend the threshold of the studio, to create a greater feeling of separation from the city,” said Unknown Works.

“The smooth surface is most reflective and was used to focus sound from specific areas of the surrounding landscape to the ears of a sitter,” it continued. “Where the accoya panels transition into the smaller ridges, the sound behaves differently and acts to deaden reflection – changing from top to bottom on each panel.”

Curved facade of garden studio in London
Its curved facade creates a series of seating nooks 

The studio itself, accessed by an airlock double-door, is designed as a “room within a room” and was created in close consultation with a sound studio specialist Nick Whitaker.

Acoustic baffles and bass traps are strategically positioned to eliminate reverb, ensuring an optimal audio environment for the owner to record and compose in.

Charred cladding at Shou Sugi Bangers by Unknown Works
The cladding has grooves in its facade

“The architecture of the studio is designed to isolate and withdraw,” Unknown Works told Dezeen.

“It feels otherworldly to enter, passing between the big double door air-lock and closing them behind you – like entering a submarine.”

“Coming out from a period in the studio and sitting in one of the nooks is part of the re-acclimatisation,” the studio added.

“From a space separated from the outside world – you are then invited to a space to focus on the natural world around.”

Interior of Shou Sugi Bangers music studio by Unknown Works
The studio is soundproof

To stay under the 2.5-metre height of the permitted development rules, Unknown Works partially embedded the studio into the garden.

A large skylight allows the space to be naturally lit while retaining the feeling of entering a meditative space.

Skylight looking out to trees
It is lit by a skylight

Unknown Works is a London studio founded by Ben Hayes, Kaowen Ho and Theo Games Petrohilos in 2017.

Other projects by the studio include Pigment House, a north London residence with dusty pink surfaces and a semi-detached house in east London with vibrant yellow-rendered forms.

The photography is by Lorenzo Zandri.

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