In the next phase of works to this Highgate property the young family briefed us further to remodel their existing lower living accommodation, including the excavation of a basement over the footprint of the property including light-wells to the front and rear and a full width rear extension providing panoramic views and better links over the long rear garden.
Our outline design to date includes a long basement running from front to rear gardens with natural light entering via deep light-wells featuring gently curving soffits. These light-wells create external spaces for both private and family use away from the activities occurring in the main house. It is the intentions that metalwork both suspended above and adjacent to these ‘wells’ will over time drape itself into the voids – vegetating and softening them against the rough rendered walls and brick parquet floors.
The dividing walls of the below-ground spaces are formed by solid wood joinery integrating tall, wide sliding doors delineating and allocating space to meet daily requirements with finishes being allowed to run continuously giving continuity as one experiences the space. One terrazzo staircase descends from the front while another ascends taking users up via a sharp structural glass box into the ground floor living room, discreetly away from the new kitchen/dining area which lies within the new rear extension. Large slender aluminium sliding doors punctuate the black zinc rear extension opening the internal space both over the rear light-well and providing a level, paved patio connecting to the rear garden.
The materials selected include: ‘Kalei’ brickwork – clay plastered brick, Venetian plaster, unpainted plaster, seamless terrazzo floor, reclaimed oak parquet to match the recently completed first floor, exposed aggregate concrete and bluestone / lava-stone slabs, brick paviours laid in parquet format as well as solid ash and sycamore joinery. Despite some of these finishes appearing unfinished, it is their tactility and inherent character that will provide a rich, distinguished and unique atmosphere to each space and the approach and entry to it. Simple detailing of junctions and transitions will allow these textures to either stand-out or dissolve into the background where required.