Blurring the traditional front and back of house layout of the existing property, set alongside the river Quaggy.

The existing building is an Edwardian semi-detached house located on a triangular plot along the river Quaggy. The unusual plot shape allowed space for development on the side while leaving three distinct garden spaces around the house, to the front, side and rear.

The idea was to build a two-storey side timber extension which opens up a better connections to these garden spaces while creating an architectural contrast to the existing building.

Given the proximity to the riverside there are large mature trees all along the boundary, creating a green curtain around the gardens and giving access to longer views in between onto the borrowed landscape beyond.


Shortlisted for New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! Award 2020: the 25 best house extensions in London

Pivot spaces

The interior spaces are interconnected semi open-plan and create distinct areas of different character. The spaces are directed towards the different garden views, switching direction to create surprising sight-lines. While the dining area acts as a pivot and faces the pond, it connects to the family room which faces the Japanese garden. The lounge is located at the front of the house in the original Victorian space. It is adjacent to the front garden which has a Mediterranean feel. The kitchen addresses the rear garden with its terrace and play space.

Ash interiors

The most relevant interior elements such as floor, kitchen, window seat and stairs are made of solid ash and ash-veneered plywood. This restrained palette contrasts with white walls and ceilings as well as selected colourful elements. The stairs are treated as a piece of habitable furniture, with partial views in and out. The hole pattern follows the stair profile and inclludes larger holes along the eye level of both small children and adults.

Selected functional areas such as the entrance, the kitchen shelf or the tall doors have been painted in strong colours to provide accents throughout the house. This provides moments of surprise akin to walking through a landscape, in contrast to the otherwise restrained materials palette.

The floor is laid diagonally to accentuate the dynamic character of the spaces and respond to the triangular shape of the plot.

Client quote

[R2] provided a fantastic design that worked on a number of levels, successfully navigated a tricky planning permission process for us and [were] there to provide valuable input throughout construction. [They] brought great passion, energy, vision and commitment to our project, for which we are very grateful.

Oliver, Owner, Ash House

All photos by Andy Stagg