We bought this house knowing it had potential but with no fixed views on how to unlock that potential. The house, originally built in 1928 had an awkward relationship with the back garden, which was about 2 meters lower than the ground floor of the house. The rooms were disjointed and some were small and movement between them was overly complicated. When we introduced Patrick to the house and he began to spend some time with us he realised that we were ambitious in what we were prepared to do and that given the size of the plot relative to the house footprint there was significant potential to explore a radical approach.
The moment of inspiration took place in the back garden on a sunny Saturday in March when Patrick having contemplated the conditions for a few weeks, sketched over a photograph of the back of the existing house, showing a new garden room, which was in effect a basement to the rest of the house, and a large family room opening onto a terrace sat on top, giving great views over the garden. We immediately loved the idea and set about developing it into the scheme that we ultimately built.
The best parts of the design mean it has such little impact on the adjacent houses, creating a very private garden, accessed directly from a large, fully front glazed suite at lower level. The upper room, which connects into the existing house on two faces provides excellent circulation and movement, tying the existing house seamlessly into the new. This new space accommodates a generous lounge and dining area, linked through to a kitchen within the existing house envelope in an open plan and integrated way. This whole space leads out onto a terrace that overlooks the garden. The intriguing part is that the vastly altered house is imperceptible from the front, with the original 1920’s features retained and showcased, not revealing anything of the contrasting, modern spaces now plugged very discreetly into the rear.
The design brought with it a number of technical challenges not least of which was the need to substantially underpin the existing foundations to the rear of the house, but also to excavate a significant amount of earth to allow us insert the new foundations and garden room structure. We chose to leave the reinforced concrete structural walls to the new garden room exposed, while the new upper room was constructed with a steel frame and glazed garden elevation and masonry boundary wall.
We have now lived in the completed house for about two and a half years and we have thoroughly enjoyed the space, light and movement provided by the design. Additionally the views and access out to the private and enclosed garden have made the interaction between house and garden easy and comfortable, a distinct contrast to the experience when we first bought the house.
“In a dark Northern town, the North Star pulls off a neat trick of catching the light.
A wrap-around window wall and white reflective surfaces flow smoothly. This is a curvilinear design that runs easy on the eye. Imagine the Moloko Bar from Clockwork Orange with a twist. Kubrick could do no better.”
Reni, The Stone Roses 2011