The volume of a narrow 1960’s house is replicated and intersected with the original to create a vibrant family home set in a lush garden.
The starting point of this project was a 1960s detached house in Crystal Palace at the end of a leafy cul-de-sac, surrounded by tall mature trees. Situated in a close-fitting community the expanding family needed to significantly increase the size of their home. The existing house was narrow in shape, had low ceilings and was split into small spaces, lacking more generous spaces for the family to enjoy time together and entertain friends. The house felt disconnected from the outside. The brief was to create a series of fluid spaces with a strong connection to the outside, inspired by Californian case-study houses.
Read project feature in The Guardian
Shortlisted for New London Architecture’s Don’t Move, Improve! Award 2020: the 25 best house extensions in London
The location at the end of the street made a larger extension possible without impacting the neighbouring properties. The strong pattern of the repeated original house type and its narrow width led to the solution of replicating the two-storey house volume and offsetting this to allow the original house to dominate at the front and the new at the back.
The use of the original shape allowed a free approach to material selection. The result is a seamless zinc-tiled dark exterior with the expressive look extending inside with exposed structural steels and opened up ceilings to show the roof structure.
The main living space for the family is partially located inside the existing house and in the extension. This overlap is accentuated by a step in floor level down to the garden level, creating a close connection to the outside while at the same time structuring the internal spaces into distinctive areas.
The open-plan space is arranged around a concrete ‘rock’ which frames the edge of the level change. The kitchen island is attached to this rock and cantilevers out dramatically into the dining area.
The steelwork was made by a local fabricator and painted cobalt blue. The staircase is also fabricated in steel of the same colour. It is hovering in the entrance, suspended by an array of zigzag wires which give the stair a lightweight appearance with a free view through from the entrance to the rear.
Upstairs, the ceilings were removed and the trusses exposed to become part of the rooms. As a result the rooms feel spacious despite their narrow width. An oversized corner mirror in the bathroom extends the small space further to create the illusion of a generous interior.
This project demonstrates how working with a client who has a great eye for design and who also acts as a contractor can make unusual solutions possible that might have been omitted in a traditional procurement route. Generally, materials were inexpensive but used to maximum effect.
I wasn't exactly sure what [working with an architect] would bring, I just knew it would bring things that I couldn't bring to the table. I knew I wanted something else and I wasn't exactly sure what that was until you work with other smart people and things happen that you don't predict - and they did! Lots of nice details came out of that. There was a certain chemistry in working with Frederik and R2 Studio straight away.