James Alder Architects has designed an extension to a Victorian garden flat that is both generous and intimate in its scale
RIBA West London Regional Award 2023
Manber Jeffries House, Willesden Green
James Alder Architects for private client
Contract value: Confidential
Manber Jeffries House is an exquisitely conceived extension to a garden flat within a Victorian semi-detached villa in Willesden Green, London. Cleverly negotiating a half-storey step down to the garden, the new extension deftly brings the focus of the client’s home into a 26m2 kitchen/dining room. Simultaneously expressed as a tall, vaulted volume and a semi-sunken space, the extension is both generous and intimate in its scale.
Key to the project was the retention and extension of a substantial brick party wall, which had historically supported a symmetrical pair of pitched-roofed garden outbuildings and lavatories. These had been heavily neglected in recent decades and were already partially demolished. Victorian glasshouses and ancillary garden buildings, built as appendages to the boundary walls of formal gardens, formed a particularly strong inspiration for both the project’s formal language and materiality.
Responding to a modest budget, James Alder Architects has creatively used everyday standardised materials to glorious effect. Internally an exposed steel frame and timber roof joists are coupled with exposed blockwork and an ingenious use of concrete lintels to form the stair and walls down to the garden level. Externally, ordinary red bricks and red clay tiles give a strong sculptural effect, which is detailed with rigour and discipline, elevating the ordinary to something joyful.
The successful relationship and trust between client, architect, and contractor was evident from the discussions regarding material finishes and setting out. While parts of the extension were delivered directly by the client under a self-build initiative resulting from the constraints of the Covid lockdowns, the overall execution of the project is rigorous and disciplined.
Contractor London Expert Builders
Structural engineer Mark & Partners
To find out more about the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com