Text description provided by the architects. The property is situated within a Victorian terrace backing onto the railway embankment from which the street takes it name. The terrace was constructed in the latter part of the 19th Century. Like many similar terraces, the street side is defined by a tall uniform elevation of London stock, punctuated only by a rhythm of bay windows and recessed porches. At the rear, however, an eclectic range of incremental additions and forms is a testament to the varied lives of its inhabitants over the years.
The language of the new extension was inspired by the honesty and simple poetry of self-built 'add-ons' and 'closet returns' seen along the rear of railway terraces. Key challenges involved the extensive refurbishment of a cramped, dark existing property in a poor state of repair. A key issue involved how to maximise the sense of external space, and create a new sequence of generous living spaces to address a tall verdant railway embankment.
The clients, Ian and Clare, had a large collection of fine furniture and ambition to curate’ a series of distinct spaces each with their own identity. A 'jewelry box' was used as a metaphor to describe how a structure that was seemingly small from the outside; could unfold into a varied array of spaces when one progresses through the building. A dark and apparently simple exterior form would have a warm and eclectic interior.
Design Methodology. The intimate character of the existing property is retained whilst creating a light and tall proportioned new space to the rear. The extension to the rear is conceived as two cubic volumes embedded within a plinth. The lowered plinth along the boundaries contains the kitchen cupboards and units and avoids overshadowing issues to neighbouring properties.
One volume creates a tall central 'lantern' over the dining area and is detached from the rear of the property to allow light to enter from all sides. The second volume, a timber-clad bathroom rests above the roof structure and defines a space for a large roof-light below.
The tall dining space directs views up into the tree canopy of the embankment. A large pocket door completely opens the new kitchen to the garden area. The first-floor bathroom and bedrooms, look over a new green roof to the plinth to provide visual continuity with the embankment behind.
A warm and rich timber-lined interior with flecks of brass contrast with the existing victorian brickwork, complemented with sharply detailed darkened metal and charred timber exterior of the new extension. The external materials to the new extension were chosen to blend with the sooty coloured London stock brickwork at the rear, and speak to the oxidised qualities of small structures along the railway line itself.
Environmental strategy. A ‘fabric first’ approach was taken to the existing building and the new extension. The existing roof and ground floor were insulated using breathable sheep's-wool, new insulated glazing and thermal upgrades carried out to the existing walls. The thermal performance of the new extension is a 50% improvement on the current building regulations.
The new interior involved low VOC/free paints, reclaimed timber for all new floors, worktops, and the kitchen. Sustainably grown Timber and MDF from FSC certified sources. Copper and brass are highly recyclable materials. The new sedum/wildflower roof, and a roof drainage system that encourages the recycling of water to sustain it creates a new garden area larger than that existed prior to the new extension.