House in The Girl Before designed to feel both like a sanctuary and “a fortress or prison”

Judith Zeng

Generation designer Jon Henson drew on minimalist Japanese architecture to make a household that functions “like a fourth character” for the established of BBC tv series The Woman Right before.


Composed by British author JP Delaney, The Woman Just before is a psychological thriller novel established in a fictional one-bedroom household called Just one Folgate Avenue in Hampstead, London.

For the Television set collection, which was designed by BBC and HBO Max, the the vast majority of the interior scenes were being filmed final spring in a goal-built set at Bottle Garden Studios in Bristol, though the house’s exterior was specially built.

“I preferred it [the house] to come to feel in some cases like a sanctuary – tranquil and secure, nearly zen-like – and then from time to time to truly feel like a fortress or a jail,” Henson informed Dezeen.

Major: the exterior facade of 1 Folgate Avenue. Above: the objective-constructed established of The Lady Prior to

“The temporary from the director was that it must be pretty much like a fourth character,” he said. “But I wanted to just take that more and build a space which could pretty much atmospherically improve, based on the scene and what we essential considerably.”

This sentiment echoes Delaney’s intentions. In an interview with Dezeen, he spelled out how he wanted to make the house sense like the protagonist of the novel.

“This is a guide about 4 people and the strongest character is the house,” Delaney mentioned. “It’s the most dominant character.”

A marble table with dining chairs
Generation designer Jon Henson was encouraged by Japanese architecture

The Lady In advance of follows two girls who live in the similar home a few many years apart, below demanding conditions approved by the architect of the residence.

The very first tenant (Jessica Plummer), who is in a romantic marriage with the architect, dies at the address below suspicious circumstances. A series of unnerving activities at the house potential customers the second woman (Gugu Mbatha-Uncooked) to query no matter if she will experience the similar destiny.

A living room on the set of The Girl Before
The production team created the sofa, stairs and desk from scratch

Immediately after looking at the script and hearing aspects about the house – which is explained as modern day and minimalist in the e-book – Henson commenced to do considerable research into architects and architecture for the 4-part sequence.

He was drawn in certain to F Residence by Japanese architecture studio Gosize, a minimalist concrete house in the Japanese prefecture of Hygo that was featured on Dezeen in 2019.

“I referenced a ton of Japanese architecture,” he recalled. “If you look at the house in Hygo by Gosize you will see heaps of its influence.”

F Residence by GOSIZE
Henson drew on the style and design of F Residence by Gosize for the set. Photography is by Akiyoshi Fukuzawa

A standout feature of F Residence is a double-height courtyard that has a one tree in its middle. The courtyard is surrounded by large home windows, furnishing the occupants with numerous angles to see the tree from inside the home.

The production staff for The Female Before mimicked this by developing large sheets of glass and arranging them all around a lone maple tree in the center of a concrete courtyard on the set.

The large windows also served a practical function for the film crew: they offered lots of angles to shoot from. This assisted make selection on the shoot, which was significant as Henson estimates about 60 per cent of the series is filmed in the home.

A minimalist, grey toned living room
Large windows aided give new angles for filming

“The largest obstacle with the established was that we have been heading to be filming there for six or seven weeks,” explained Henson.

“That at first threw up this problem of ‘how can you build a area which you can shoot in for that interval of time with out it starting to be monotonous?'” he added.

“That led to me seeking to make a room which available loads of unique views, so we produced large expanses of glass looking into the courtyard to give ourselves one more dimension.”

Henson labored carefully with the series’ director Lisa Bruhlmann to make certain that the unique views labored in advance of the actors arrived on established.

Following marking out the designs on the studio ground, he walked Bruhlmann by means of the area, modifying the place of the home windows and doorways as they went.

A dark bedroom with a full length window
Henson drew on the structure of F Home by Gosize for the established

Whilst investigating Japanese architecture, Henson also arrived throughout lattice timber details in a lot of structures and made the decision to integrate this into the facade of 1 Folgate Street.

“I’d seen that in Japan they typically use slatted timber – slim slats of timber with spaces between them,” he recalled.

As a end result, he chose to make the house’s placing facade out of countless numbers of timber slats, which the group painted silver.

A series of tiled corridors inside One Folgate Street house
The home windows and corridors give space for unique camera perspectives

In the ebook, Delaney describes One Folgate Road as currently being located along a row of houses, but Henson made a decision that a cul-de-sac was a more acceptable filming locale.

The crew uncovered an current plot of land on which to make the facade of the property as witnessed in the sequence, though the interiors had been shot at Bottle Garden Studios.

“We wished it to be at the end of a cul de sac, so that it experienced a more robust standpoint on it that really led you to the dwelling,” he said. “We identified a road that experienced some aged garages at just one conclude, so we knocked down the garages and developed the dwelling.”

An aerial view into the dining room of One Folgate Street
The dwelling has a minimalist structure

Like the facade, lots of of the inside furnishings that show up in the collection – such as the couch, eating desk and the fatal cantilevered stairs – were being also developed by the production staff.

This was in component because Henson wanted to guarantee that each detail was correct, presented the confined amount of money of furnishing.

“I identified early on that minimalism is in fact a large amount tougher than the opposite,” he reported. “Every single chair that you pick out, each light-weight that you decide on is this sort of a sturdy position of concentration, so I found it harder to design and style it than anything that was full of things.”

The slatted timber facade of the house on the set of The Girl Before
Timber slats type the front of the home

According to Henson, the most tough element of generating the established for The Female In advance of was striving to make it apparent that the two girls lived in the exact property in unique time intervals.

“I was actually anxious that, mainly because of the tales of the two women of all ages running practically in parallel in the similar home but three years aside, it would turn out to be complicated,” claimed the designer.

A moodboard by production designer Jon Henson
Henson hoped the house would appear across as its personal character

To steer clear of perplexing viewers, Henson decided to employ effects that designed it look as however the girls have been residing in diverse seasons.

As the collection swapped from 1 character’s tale to the other, the output group modified the tree in the courtyard from becoming in entire bloom to getting included in autumnal leaves.

Henson also built rain bars into the primary courtyard from which water could pour down to make it surface as if it was raining. This intended that he experienced to place the entire set on a raised system higher than an extraction tank underneath the stones in the courtyard, letting water to be drained and pumped out.

“We could be capturing Gugu in the early morning and then Jess in the afternoon and so we had to find a window to modify the tree with an hour’s turnaround time,” Henson explained.

“You can visualize what that led to,” he laughed.

The Girl In advance of was 1st produced in the United kingdom on-line on BBC One particular on 19 December 2021. The complete series is accessible to look at on BBC iPlayer.

Illustrations or photos courtesy of Jon Henson and HBO.

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