At the entrance to O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects’ offices on Camden Row, the number of the building is stencilled on the wall perpendicular to the door.
The number – a big, bold 20A, with the ‘A’ made huge so it acts like a proud feature rather than any indicator of a subset – is in the same bright tomato red as the door, linking the two visually like a sign if you approach from the junction with Heytesbury Street. (From any approach, there’s a neat name-plate on the door and no actual risk of confusion.) It’s clever and well-considered, choosing a simple solution instead of a showier one.
O’Donnell + Tuomey are shortlisted for this year’s Stirling prize for their angular brick Lyric Theatre in Belfast. (They’ve been shortlisted three times before: for An Gaeláras in Derry in 2011, for the Lewis Glucksman Gallery in Cork in 2005, and for Ranelagh Multi-Denominational School in 1999.) They’re also taking part in the main exhibition at the 13th Venice Architecture Biennale. I don’t think there’s ever a quiet time behind the red door, but right now it must be particularly exciting.