The use of brick plays a very important role in the architectural history of the United Kingdom. Construction techniques that involve brick and stone have been in constant progress. In fact, brick production improved over time, making the material the most popular one in the construction industry. From the 18th century onwards, brickwork was predominantly used in domestic and industrial architecture, but later on, it was introduced to the structure of warehouses and factories, as well as other various forms of infrastructure.
While many of these buildings are still operating to this day, it comes as no surprise. Refurbishment and reuse are highly recommended techniques, and in many cases, the only methods to maintain densely populated European cities. Therefore, the challenge lays in reusing these buildings and recycling the materials available, always trying to retain as much of the original structure as possible.
There has been an extensive array of brick construction refurbishment projects in the UK over the past years, where the treatment of the material and the solutions vary and depend on the original status of the building, the new program, or new necessities. In residential and office refurbishments, the two most common approaches consist of: Creating additional extensions to the existing brick building, using a modern brickwork technique or introducing a new material contrasting with the original building; or refurbishing the original building shell with less invasive modifications and works on the recycling of the interior while incorporating new materials.
Whilst the front facade was designed in the Neo-Georgian style, the interior layout and design were generic 1970’s housebuilders. Stripping out the entire interior back to just the external walls and the roof, we inserted a new interior as a modern interpretation of a Georgian house interior. The design is centered around a cantilevered pill-shaped staircase that sits in a triple-height space with the upper rooms accessed directly off the stair.
Edinburgh Pavilion is the full internal refurbishment and large contemporary extension of a Grade B listed Victorian villa in a Conservation Area in central Edinburgh. The existing property consists of a series of grand rooms with significant decorative features, arranged in a formal manner reflective of the time in which it was built.
Due to the conservation restrictions on the historical fabric of the listed building, only minor alterations were permitted in the existing house. The architects, therefore, proposed a new extension to the rear of the building.
It’s all about the brick’ is how SPA future-proofed a garden apartment in a large Italianate semi-detached villa in North London. The clients wanted an enduring space to suit their growing family as their home forever. The answer was two-pronged: to remodel and retrofit the original and to expand into the mature garden, adding a true indoor-outdoor living.
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 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.
The existing building was in very poor condition with damp and sloping floors. 80% of the existing building was stripped out, reconfigured, restored and replaced. The design seeks to keep the character of the original 19th Century Victorian townhouse at the same time adds a modern extension to enhance its quality.
Instead of the more expected glass structure, this innovative addition reimagines the conventional terraced-house extension, celebrating and elevating the humble brick. The brick’s inherent potential as a stackable module is maximized to create a more sculptural expression of the material.
Using bricks reclaimed from the fabric of the house, the extension exploits the rights of a light diagram to create a staggered, extruded form that appears to melt away from the existing structure. This rhythmic stepping generated by the brick is echoed throughout the interior and is integrated into both the plan and section. Viewed from the terrace above, the form creates a striking silhouette – a feature rare in more straightforward additions.
The brief was to create a light, airy, family-friendly environment: an abode featuring sophisticated simplicity, clever uses of space, an open-plan feel for entertaining, contemporary touches, yet with a respect for the original period style and featuring high-quality, timeless design.
Externally we used coated zinc on the side and roof extension as it blends well with the surrounding context, and for its physical properties. We chose a colour similar in tone to the neighbouring tiled roofs.
Instead of demolishing the ruin, Will Gamble Architects proposed “a building within a building” - where two lightweight volumes could be delicately inserted within the masonry walls in order to preserve and celebrate it. A palette of honest materials was chosen both internally and externally which references the site’s history and the surrounding rural context.
Externally, corten steel, oak, and reclaimed brick have been used. The extension was built out of up-cycled materials predominantly found on site which was both cost-effective and sustainable, whilst allowing the proposal to sensitively blend into its surroundings. Internally the structural beams of the existing cattle shed were exposed as well as the steelwork to the new parts - the stone walls were re-pointed and washed in lime to create a mottled effect and a concrete plinth was cast along the base to create a monolithic “skirting”. A contemporary kitchen (also designed by the practice) juxtaposes the uneven and disordered nature of the ruin and continues the theme of a modern intervention set within a historic context.
The building was converted into a residential dwelling thirty years ago and had been untouched ever since. It still echoed its late Victorian origins and function with stable doors and a first-floor fireplace for the coachmen which we re-instated and repaired. It was important to maximise the living space with an open-plan ground floor and combining domestic functions creating a practical family home.
Bricks reclaimed from the demolition were cleaned on-site and re-used in the construction of the extension. To align with our ethos of responsible sourcing we opted for environmentally considerate finishes. Beeswax was used as a plaster sealant, and both the interior wall and external timber paint were made from linseed oil free from any solvents, binders, emulsifiers, heavy metals or carcinogenic/toxic substances.
The design has transformed the shell of a double fronted mews building into a contemporary and timeless workplace for a small but growing boutique office. With sustainability driving the client’s business, the building represents this ongoing commitment. A zero-carbon sustainable strategy was adopted for the 210sqm building by replacing the gas supply with 100% renewable electricity bought from a sustainable source.
Designing with natural materials and through an honest expression of structure and detailing, the Architect has restored as much as possible of the existing building fabric to achieve an economy of materials and a sense of historic place. The offices derive their character from the retained brickwork, natural oak linings, and dark grey painted steel throughout. Externally, the refurbishment respects the existing building and is sensitive to the context. In a conservation area, the three-story building sits comfortably alongside the other buildings in the mews, with lead roofing and windows matching its neighbors’.
PAD began the refurbishment by stripping away the existing furnishing and decor to reveal the water tower's historic fabric, before proposing a number of contemporary interventions, including a large protruding window and sculptural steel staircase.
As part of the renovation, a carefully selected pallet of materials complements the existing brick allowing the original architecture to be clearly expressed against the new additions. Furthermore, extensive cleaning was undertaken to refresh the building's external walls and bring back the original brick’s colour.
A series of timber containers have been inserted into the existing building, dividing domestic and commercial functions and sometimes blending the two. These boxes sit within the volume of the roof and create the nest-like atmosphere of an attic or storeroom, with skylights allowing light to pour down into the spaces below. Small openings create surprising views through to adjacent rooms and a timber staircase is made up of a series of planks suspended above the hallway.
Grange Hall is an impressive example of late Georgian architecture, and we felt that it would benefit greatly from its careful restoration and adaption, rather than demolition and the creating of something new. We have respected much of the original footprint and the layout of the existing building, as well as utilizing existing doorways and generally built the individual dwellings around each of these existing entrances. Architectural features including rubbed brick lintels, stone copings, and stepped brick coursings are retained, refurbished, and celebrated, and the existing timber A-frames roof structures within the main spaces have been adapted and retained to provide central features within the main living spaces.
Location: North Berwick
The redevelopment was as much an exercise in subtraction as in addition, removing accumulated layers of past development. A poorly placed fire escape, built following the 1960s fire, compromised the first-floor layout but was made redundant by the introduction of a sprinkler system, allowing the interior to be substantially opened up. Removal of the fire escape also frees up the rear of the site for future development.
Note: The quoted texts are excerpts from the archived descriptions of each project, previously sent by the architects. Find more reference projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topic: Recycled Materials. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our monthly topics here. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.