Originally commissioned to extend and convert an existing detached Edwardian house with a new family home. The original house was suffering from a long-term lack of repair and reflected a pattern of living that was far more relevant to life more than a century ago. Benign in character and quality, it blended into the typical set-piece of the suburban streetscape, and architecture that appeared different to its surrounding status-quo was always going to be treated with suspicion by the neighbourhood.
Initially conceived as a retro first adaptation, detailed analysis of the project highlighted the burden of the outdated taxation system in the UK. The resultant new detached family home questions if it is possible to construct a sustainable replacement dwelling in an established suburban setting, whilst retaining a strong relationship between its context.
Reuse, recycle, resource became the mandate for the project. Reuse the existing structural grid minimising the requirement for new foundations. Recycle existing masonry in loadbearing elements of the structure. Resource new materials and suppliers from sustainable origins.
Conceived as an augmentation of the original house plan, the spatial composition is directly influenced by the nine square grid. Architecturally a clear language of public and private is defined spatially and by the elevations of the house. The treatment of thresholds between interior and exterior space varies in scale and proportion from front to rear, according to each room’s physical and visual connection to the street, the gardens and carnival fields beyond. Elevational form is divided into four angled gables of varying pitch, a proportional device to reference the surrounding vernacular architecture, supplementing the geometrical roof scape of adjacent houses.
A central entrance hall is the defining element in the spatial composition. It defines the centre-piece of the radiating arrangement of masses which relate in scale and grain to the neighbouring houses and suburban condition. Simultaneously, the hall reinforces a hierarchy of rooms within the house according to patterns of living: open plan living spaces on the ground floor and more conventional cellular rooms on the upper levels.
The house is given physical consistency and presence throughout by its defined palette of materials. Brick is loadbearing structure and finish to the ground floor, unified with lime bagged render providing a coherence with the surrounding houses, abstract in its use, covering surfaces inside and out, the brick retains the association of traditional craft embedded in the architecture of suburban development.
Brick is complemented by timber to the upper level which strengthen the overall spatial character. Delicate slats of cedar envelope a timber frame to manifest an external tectonic honesty to the construction. Stained brown the timber coalesces with its context, fluctuating in profile and depth dispersing shadows across the form.
The proposition of this new family home examines a fundamental tension of architecture – the responsibility to belong to its surroundings in terms of scale, proportion and material, whilst facilitating the patterns of everyday lives through the making of rooms