Text description provided by the architects. The Black Ridge House is an extension to an existing three-bedroom Victorian terraced house that is part of the Warner Estate in Walthamstow. The existing homes built in that period were made one-room-deep and south-facing towards the street, creating a neglected connection to the north-facing garden to the rear. The clients’ ambition for the project was to completely re-energize the house by radically remodeling it to suit their lifestyle for open plan living and create a greater connection to the garden, which was designed by our client, a drummer turned landscape designer.
The design approach was to retain the existing size and proportions of the existing domestic spaces but create a large open plan area towards the rear of the house where we combined kitchen, dining and living in a single space. By pitching the roof forms up into the center and lowering it at the edges a sense of spatial hierarchy was created giving a focus to the edges as well as creating a dining space with a tall ceiling. There is a new master bedroom and skylight bathroom in the first-floor rear extension and a green sedum roof blanket so that when looking out the windows, the view is onto green space. Most of the objects in the house where made in collaboration with our client and our team of joiners and metalworkers, such as the oak-clad kitchen, steel-crafted media unit in the living room or the sliding door of salvaged timber from an old floor.
The home incorporates many energy-saving features including a high degree of insulation, underfloor heating in the extension, LED lighting, extensive skylights and highly insulated doubled glazed metal windows. The design of the extension was inspired by the roof lines and rhythm of the early Warner houses. The overall design embraces the philosophy of Biophilic design principles, addressing our innate attraction to nature and natural processes. By constructing the extension out of a natural product [timber] whose surface is formed by a natural process [fire]–we celebrate nature. The design also includes ideas of wabi-sabi – a worldview that is based on the acceptance of transience and imperfection. Beauty is seen as being “imperfect, impermanent and incomplete.”
The Shou Sugi Ban technique of burning is used on wood with differing age, water, and sap content and the results are not always controlled – this process allows for a richness of texture, color, and grain which is at once beautiful and spontaneous. Thinner timber cladding panel on the first floor and a charred black Shou Sugi Ban Kebony modified wood cladding panel with a wide format on the ground floor breaks up the massing and differentiates between the two levels giving a different sense of scale and detail.
The kitchen island utilizes a live edge on the countertop giving a sense of a hand-crafted approach to the kitchen within a modern interior. As well as natural oak for the worktop and cupboard doors. The sliding timber door was made from reclaimed timber panels, paired with exposed black steel track further creates a modern industrial feel. We should also mention the use of concrete on the project – which is present in the precast kitchen worktops and the cantilevered bathroom basin which gives a sense of solidity to these objects.