Conservation and sustainability loom large at the reconfigured and extended Green House in Hackney, maintaining its individualism and intimacy with attention to detail
Who is the project for and what was the brief, including any specific requirements?
The brief called for the reconfiguration and extension of the lower ground floor of a split-level Victorian house in Hackney. In opposition to prevailing trends towards open-plan white spaces and boxy extensions, we pursued a more nuanced approach which responds to the householders’ particular tastes and interests, as well as the work of one of the clients as a building conservationist.
What was the planning context/situation?
The building is in a traditional Victorian street in Hackney but given that the works focused to the rear there were no significant issues in gaining planning permission.
Describe the project, including its context, the existing building it is extending and the work that has been done
A series of intimately connected spaces replace the previous layout, which had divided the front and back of the house and ignored the garden. Now, a new glazed study offers privacy and views into the south-facing garden, which has been relandscaped and planted for colour, scent, and to promote biodiversity. Under the stairs a small utility room and toilet are provided behind panelled walls and hidden doors. A large L-shaped kitchen takes advantage of the full width of the house and offers views from back to front gardens through its now uninterrupted length. There is a modest fully glazed extension which provides a dining area.
Explain the external treatment of the project
Externally the monopitched roof of the glass house reflects that of the distinctive butterfly roofs of the terrace to ensure that this is a distinct yet harmonious addition in keeping with spirit of the original house. The oak frame is clad in a bright ‘May Green’ metal to signify its newness.
Explain how the interiors have been designed
The challenging brief led to innovation and homage in equal measure. The material and colour palette was influenced by the clients’ love for early-20th-century paintings of domestic interiors, for example by Harold Harvey, embracing deep hues in the circulation spaces and kitchen and opening up to lighter natural oak in the glass house. Inside, taking inspiration from an antique Welsh dresser, the oak timber frame of the glass house is formed into a wall of shelving which can be used for display and storage.
What has been the project’s approach to sustainability?
The project prioritises the use of sustainable materials. A reclaimed parquet floor salvaged from a school sports hall provides character and a lasting, high-quality finish. The kitchen worktop, by Granby Workshop, is formed from 70% reclaimed materials and hand-marbled to create unique surface patterns. In the glass house, a timber terrazzo floor that reuses waste wood introduces a sense of playfulness and warmth, while harmonising with the oak frame.
Describe one challenge and how you overcame it
The client has a diverse collection of traditional furniture including a Welsh dresser, which was causing the space to feel cramped. To counteract that, the entire project is conceptualised as a piece of furniture, including a built-in bench and storage. There is no distinction between the structural frame of the glass house and the other joinery elements in the house.
What is your favourite detail/moment in the project?
We love the way the bifold door can effectively turn the space into a covered dining area in the summer. This flexibility is something that was very important to the client from the outset and something which the team worked hard to achieve.
Which aspect would you do again next time?
We enjoy using natural materials like oak and combining them with recycled materials like the recycled worktops and timber terrazzo floors. This approach remains prevalent in many of our projects. We are also working with the contractor again, because the company had excellent attention to detail.
Alex Smith is founding director at [Y/N] Studio
Total contract cost £80,000
GIFA cost per m2 £1600
Architect [Y/N] Studio
Structural engineer Webb Yates
Building control Quadrant Approved Inspector
Main contractor John Goudie
Kitchen Luckin Kitchens
Worktops Granby Workshop