We were approached to look at the refurbishment and extension of this detached property close to Highgate Wood in Crouch End, North London. The current home sits at a lower level than the main road to the front however due to the topography of the plot the rear garden lies considerably lower than the current rear rooms – living, kitchen and dining. This transition from front to rear restricts access and therefore reduces the use of the large rear garden, being an unusual asset for London properties. The existing house has become tired and some recent modifications including a loft conversion were poorly configured to make the best of the large floor area to each level.
Our challenge was to re-think the current configuration and functionality of the house on all levels demonstrating a coherent programme on how it could best be adapted and extended to address the needs of a young family with four young children. Initially, we have sought to carry out extensive modifications to each floor however after careful analysis we have retained the main living rooms but rather punched openings and introduced a dropped level to the rear half of the ground floor which more suitably addresses the topography and allows for better interaction with the rear garden.
The existing bedrooms on the first floor have been altered to provide more ensuites and bathroom provision as well as addressing access across to the new hipped side extension at first-floor level. Altering the location of the loft staircase helps refine the access to each internal room permitting a more integral staircase which feels more in keeping and generous.
Externally we produced a feasibility study developing themes of rhythm and verticality to help address what is a wide panoramic extension to the ground floor. A key aspect in terms of reducing the mass of the new proposals to the ground floor was to create either a clear break/division between the main extension and the garden studio, either in materiality, scale or datum. The junction between these two forms is a defining element in which it can be pulled apart to open up and animate the juxtaposition. Furthermore to add a feeling of shelter we have pulled back the enclosing rear wall featuring the rear doors to offer a protected raised patio walkway that also creates deep reveals to play with shadow and light.
We have explored materials that we feel offer the new extension a unique and contrasting resonance rather than simply attempt to copy the existing materials, these included rose-pink brickwork with light mortar joints, cast in-situ fair-faced concrete structural elements, black metal inverted-cassette cladding, pale brickwork with horizontal concrete structural defining internal floor levels, natural timber windows and columns, stained cedar cladding with either large timber or metal framed slimline doors in the rear panoramic apertures.
Our aim is to submit for planning consent in Jan 2017.