The stainless steel panels and oriel window of this two-storey rear addition set up a subtle intimacy between 19th century house and garden in De Beauvoir Square
What is special about this project?
The original Jacobean ‘Regency’ architecture and the intense intimacy between house and garden. This was helped by the reflective stainless steel panels but, more fundamentally, it comes from the combined effort of the consultant team who worked collaboratively throughout to make it the best project it could be, with interior designers All & Nxthing bringing the team together and a garden designer Farlam & Chandler joining after planning. This often meant the blurring of design input between disciplines with each consultant free and able to make suggestions across the board.
Who was the project for and what was the brief, including any specific requirements?
The project was for a young professional couple creating their first family home, for a family that was growing even as we worked on the project. The specific brief was to replace the existing tired rear extensions, creating a better flow to the lower level rooms. The client is a keen gardener so this became an equally important aspect of the project and a more direct connection to a newly landscaped garden was a definite requirement.
Was the planning context/situation important in the design?
The original house is a rare and fine example of mid 19th Century Tudor Jacobean ‘Regency’ architecture and has been grade II listed since 1975. A conservatory tacked on the lower ground floor was just one example of how the property had been unsympathetically extended and refurbished in the preceding decades. Happily those additions had already established a volume for us to work within and we only need to make it a little larger. It was in much need of a sensitive approach to transform it into a comfortable and calming family home. So we needed to develop a design with a greater sensitivity towards the host than the original additions.
The planning stage was certainly the biggest challenge, trying to get a large, modern two-storey extension on the rear of a grade II listed property. We had to show that we understood and were sensitive to the original house and that what we were proposing would be a sensitive addition. Subtle detailing, landscape setting and the biodiversity of the green roofs all helped in this respect.
The Hackney Council website was also dramatically hacked during the planning stage and our application was completely lost (along with many others) so we had to start again halfway through. Not a typical planning process!
How have the interiors been designed?
Our client employed All & Nxthing to undertake a full interiors design process. Following the client brief, they have created a natural colour and material palette that fits perfectly with the original house.
Blue Murano stone benches run around the walls and into the oriel window. In a room that is used for playing, living, eating and cooking these work for sitting, storage, putting stuff on and even jumping off.
What is the most sustainable thing on this project?
The entire lower ground floor slab is formed in Limecrete, a breathable, sustainable alternative to concrete comprising a compacted layer of recycled foamed glass on top of a geotextile membrane. The build-up combines the slab and insulation layers so it can be slimmer than traditional methods. This limits the amount of intrusive digging and waste, further reducing the impact on the environment and protecting the heritage asset.
The sustainability doesn’t stop there though. Reclaimed brickwork and unfinished natural materials, such as natural stone, oak flooring and joinery and breathable lime paints, have been used throughout the lower levels.
Tell us about your favourite detail/moment in this project.
I have a few of these! I particularly love the blurred junction between the mirrored extension and the garden boundary that creates the illusion of brickwork flowing through the facade.
What would you do again? What would you not do again?
We are looking at opportunities to work with the same consultant team again and would love to work with the same client again of course!
Martyn Clark is director of envelop
Project Location De Beauvoir Square, London N1
The Client Private Client
Architect (& Contact) envelop.
Interior Designer (& Contact) All & Nxthing
Landscape Designer Farlam & Chandler
Contractor Gregos Builders & Decorators
Specialist Metalwork Contractor Zedworks Design Ltd
Glazing Manufacturer Maxlight Ltd
Total Contract Cost £500,000
Area - GIFA 195sqm