Our clients understood the challenges behind creating a voluminous, bright and sympathetic extension on the north-facing rear facade of this period property. We matched their ambitions by turning constraints into driving design factors. Specific site conditions, such as the taller block of flats to the east, were used to negotiate a larger than usual footprint with the local authority. The tricky split levels within the original house defined the grand ceiling height, and create spatial interest in the stair route from the rear reception room. The tall ceiling steps down in the north-west corner to acknowledge the boundary to the neighbour’s garden and the resulting drop was used positively - bringing extra light in through high clerestory windows, and creating a more enclosed, cosy space within the large volume.
Externally, the brickwork is contextual with the house and wider London street, but remains contemporary - centred around the central chimney which balances the two roof levels. The brick chimney is exposed internally, and the fireplace becomes the focal point, again balancing between the taller, functional kitchen space and the cosseting timber-lined dining area. Thus the open plan layout is broken down into individual, human-scale spaces of different characters, enhanced by contrasts of hard/soft and dark/light materials. These have been chosen for their inherent qualities and long-lasting robustness; stock brick, terrazzo with brass inlay, walnut, leather, and painted steelwork will stand the test of time and get better with age.