Two and a Half Storey House

The project that circumnavigates a local planning restriction by building a half-height roof extension!

The clients owned the existing two-storey, two-bedroom property, located on a central London Housing Estate. With a second baby on the way, they needed more space. Priced out of three-bedroom properties in the area they decided to investigate what could be done to create more space in their existing home.

The challenge with this property, unlike others on the estate, they were unable to secure planning permission for a single-storey loft extension. They received two planning refusals since they were not permitted to build any higher than the highest point of the existing roof, due to its lower profile.

We approached the design as an interlocking jigsaw. We knew the half-height of the loft was fixed so the design was all about creating two interlocking floor levels in the space of one and a half floors. We may have given less footprint, but we created more volume and an additional bedroom by using it creatively.

The whole design of the project hinged on using the ceiling of the bedroom below as a bed platform for the bedroom above, which is spacious and light due to the effective use of roof windows. Integrating the bedframe into the fabric of the design allowed space to be freed up for other things such as the communal circulation spaces. Plywood unifies all the new and old spaces and helps to conceal lots of clever storage spaces.

Close attention to millimetre detail ensured ceiling heights could be maximised, which included exposing structural timbers in the ceilings and using vacuum insulation panels to limit floor and roof depths.

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House Lhotka

The clients are delighted with their new house and love being able to see their eldest son playing in his new loft bedroom from the hallway window on the first floor, thanks to the split levels.


What was the brief?

Add an additional bedroom to make it a three-bedroom property

What were the key challenges?

Achieving the additional space by not extending higher than the highest point of the existing roof. A requirement of Permitted Development guidelines in the UK. Two previous planning applications had been refused for projecting above the existing roofline.

What were the solutions?

Build an unconventional half-height roof extension instead and re-work the interior volumes to interlock two floors and create enough space for the additional bedroom.

Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?

Andrew and Beth have lived in the property for approximately 3 years with their young son George. With a second child on the way (Max was born during construction), they really needed an additional bedroom but also really loved the community atmosphere on the housing estate and its central location in Stoke Newington (a very popular neighbourhood for families).

They had seen the work of Bradley Van Der Straeten at an Open House London tour of a nearby property in Stoke Newington, that used to belong to George Bradley and had been designed and built by George and Ewald (the two directors) together as their first project. After appointing Bradley Van Der Straeten and having two planning applications to extend failed by the local council, they started looking for other properties to buy and then gave the half storey option one roll of the dice.

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Lost House

The design of the property had added importance as the lead architect for the project, George, also lives on the same housing estate and can see the property from his window!

How is the project unique?

The loft extension is half the height it should be. This has therefore triggered a very unique design for interior. The project is worthy of featuring in a Being John Malkovich sequel.

What building methods were used?

The construction is principally framed in steel. The steels are unconventionally tall and narrow so that they can disappear in the thickness of the walls and not increase the depth of floor construction. The steels have been carefully laid out to limit spans of the timbers, so they can remain as shallow as possible. To achieve a clean look, the timbers are supported on concealed joist hangers. The roof is insulated using ultra thim Optim-R insulation.

What are the sustainability features?

The majority of the construction has been completed using high quality timber from FSC sources. The level of insualtion used has also resulted in very minimal energy consumption for heating the spaces.

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