23.8.2016

Clapton House

The project provides an enlarged family home in Lower Clapton, London that completely transforms an existing two-storey terraced house: sometimes appearing either new or old, but inside, a rich combination of the two.

The clients’ original brief had been to provide an additional bedroom and bathroom to their two-bedroom house to accommodate an expanding family. The existing building was double-fronted, but shallow in depth and with little garden space to the rear. An initial feasibility study suggested the possibility of a larger scheme; that by relocating the house’s sleeping area to the ground floor, and placing the kitchen/living/dining room on the first floor, two additional bedrooms could be provided, as well as allowing better natural lighting to the living spaces. Planning approval was gained for this scheme and the client committed to the resulting budget uplift.

However, structural investigations revealed the property had suffered significant damage from a nearby fallen bomb during the Second World War, and had not been properly repaired, with the floor joists and roof trusses in particularly poor condition. This information led to a reconsideration of what could be retained, and it was decided to remove and reconstruct the roof, the upper floors, and the entire rear elevation, retaining only the front elevation and the front two rooms of the ground floor, whilst still working within the existing party walls.

From the front the completed house appears unchanged, its street elevation presenting a similar Edwardian façade to its neighbours. In contrast, the rear appears as a completely new building. Its simple masonry walls seem appropriate for its yard setting, whilst the timber and steel cladding to the upper floor suggests the presence of something distinct within.

Inside the house, the relationship between the host structure and the remodelling works is decidedly more complex, each space a careful negotiation between old and new. The ground floor now provides four bedrooms, a shared bathroom and an en suite: the walls, ceilings and floors here subtly distinguishing the old and new. To the rear there is a small, courtyard garden, enclosed by new brick walls. The existing staircase has been retained and leads up to a large room, providing a combined living, kitchen and dining space. The double-fronted character of the existing building, and the ability to open the roof structure, allowed a scale to this space that is unusual in London terraced housing.

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House Along a Wall

Here the play between old and new is more richly articulated. The limited budget was embraced, and a clear construction strategy employed whereby off-the shelf timber trusses and cheap plywood lining are used unaltered at high level for the roof construction, their standardised nature giving a robust character to the space. Below, Douglas Fir joinery provides built-in furniture that lines the space, its rich tones giving the room a warm character. Steelwork, with standard primer finish, provides stiffening to the existing front wall, and support to the front edge of the roof, whilst Douglas Fir inlays within the floor describe the historic room divisions.

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