Text description provided by the architects. Novak Hiles Architects has completed the extension and refurbishment of an ‘arts and crafts’ suburban terraced home in South London, UK. Built shortly before the first world war, the house and its neighbours were constructed with characterful frontages inspired by the arts and crafts movement and are today situated in a conservation area.
When the client approached Novak Hiles Architects with the aim of re-imagining the house, the practice was keen to bring a contemporary approach with a subtle nod to the property’s arts and crafts beginnings. Work has been focused on the ground floor of the house, intended to provide an improved arrangement for family life and so the existing dark and awkward kitchen area was consequently removed.
In its place, Novak Hiles Architects has designed a new extension and introduced a staggered open plan arrangement, which has had an immediately transformative effect. The plan of the space gently but very deliberately staggers and swells to inform a sense of functional zoning without excessively enforcing it, thereby providing a degree of organisation and structure for everyday living whilst maintaining an open and bright feeling. A glazed pocket door, leading from the hallway, aligns with a much-improved kitchen layout and culminates in a picture window to the rear, offering a view right through to the garden from the front door. This provides a cohesive feel to the ground floor and ensures the garden is visible throughout. The picture window features an integrated window seat, nestled amongst house plants.
The rear garden introduces a split level arrangement to continue the staggered plan approach into the exterior space, emphasising a unified feel to the inside and outside. Texture and pattern are celebrated here, with brick paving and soft planting providing a tranquil urban oasis feel.
The rear elevation of the extension features an interplay of contemporary pressed metal with bespoke ceramic tiles arranged in a celebratory frieze at the head of the extension, presenting a dignified face toward the garden. The bespoke exterior tiles have been designed by the practice specifically for this project, incorporating contextual arts and crafts references such as bracken fern leave into a repeating contemporary geometry that provides relief and texture in contrast to the crispness of the pressed metal.
The tiles and associated casting die were hand-made in the UK and serve as a celebration of craftsmanship and making on a small scale. The colouration of the extension drew inspiration from London’s familiar tiled tube station frontages, albeit with a softer contemporary tone and a greater degree of relief. The external earthy tones of the ceramic tiles and pressed metalwork in unison with bright interior tones provide an uplifting and warm material palette. White painted exposed ceiling joists help to filter natural light from a generous roof light above. Overall the finished project offers a contemporary and subtle ode to arts and crafts thinking whilst transforming the existing house for the everyday benefit of its residents.