Walmer Yard review – uncompromising beauty

By Rowan Moore

Thirteen years in the making, four houses around a small courtyard in west London designed by Peter Salter are a triumph of exquisite detail and poetic idealism, and yours – all of them, ideally – for a cool £22m

There are many ways to ventilate a room, as a trip to B&Q confirms: grilles of steel or brass, wire meshes, unsatisfying plastic devices, perforated bricks, narrow slots in window frames. What you won't find is the method used in Walmer Yard, a court of four new houses in west London, which is to insert large panels of solid stone, in area about the size of a fridge door, in the zone of wall through which the air is expected to pass. The stone is tufa, a pitted limestone popular in pre-imperial Rome, sufficiently porous (it is hoped) for the job. It is not the most obvious or direct way of getting breezes from A to B.

The project takes as far as it can the ideas that architecture might be sensual and bodily

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