A Grass-Topped Addition in England Connects Home and Garden

By Michele Koh Morollo
A gray, brick extension and garden studio helps Oatlands in Surrey open up to a previously disconnected landscape.

Winner of two 2018 RIBA awards, Oatlands by Soup Architects is a 1920s suburban home in Surrey, a county bordering London in Southeast England. Gracefully updated with a new, modern rear extension that expands the interior living spaces, the residence spills out to a landscaped garden.

The original property—a two-story, semi-detached house in a private estate in Weybridge—had undergone several minor renovations over the years, and includes 115 feet of hidden garden that curves around a corner to form a private oasis surrounded by mature pines and oaks. It was set on a long, north-south axis, but poorly connected to the rear garden. The architects realized they could use the green space to their advantage when renovating the existing three-bedroom house.

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Before: the facade

Before: the facade

Before: the rear garden

Before: the rear garden

The new garden studio is positioned at the point where the garden pivots off to a previously disconnected end of the outdoor space.   

To improve connectivity to the rear garden, Soup Architects stretched a new ground floor extension across the width of the side to open up the eastern section of the house. A living room further knits the residence with the green space.

To improve connectivity to the rear garden, Soup Architects stretched a new ground floor extension across the width of the side to open up the eastern section of the house. A living room further knits the residence with the green space.

Soup Architects enlarged the first floor of the house to include a new master bedroom, as well as a dressing and bathroom area. The usable floor area increased to 2,842 square feet.

A wedge-shaped skylight allows natural light to suffuse the interiors. The architects preserved a palette of dark, natural materials on the ground floor.

A wedge-shaped skylight allows natural light to suffuse the interiors. The architects preserved a palette of dark, natural materials on the ground floor.

The new garden studio, seen through the window, is positioned at the point where the garden pivots off to a previously disconnected end of the outdoor space.

The new garden studio, seen through the window, is positioned at the point where the garden pivots off to a previously disconnected end of the outdoor space.

From the existing ground floor building, one can glimpse into the new, sunlit extension that’s composed of contrasting light gray, exposed brickwork, white-washed walls, and full-height glazing.

"The use of sliding screens and secret panel doors allows for a free-flowing circulation route between all areas of the ground floor," says Patrick Walls, a director at Soup, "including the refurbished garage and boot-room, and a large wedge-shaped rooflight allows for subtle natural light variations throughout the day in the new extension."

Generous glazing mimics the experience of dining outdoors.

Generous glazing mimics the experience of dining outdoors.

"As you proceed through the circulation corridor towards the new extension, the space opens out to reveal a wonderfully light, open-plan space with unobstructed views out into the angled garden," he continues.

A Grass-Topped Addition in England Connects Home and Garden - Photo 7 of 16 -

"Its geometry is strongly connected to the new extension and creates a harmonious connection between the two structures," says Walls. 

Soup Architects built a new, stand-alone work studio in the lower section of the garden to provide a different orientation and perspective to the main house.

Soup Architects built a new, stand-alone work studio in the lower section of the garden to provide a different orientation and perspective to the main house.

The facade of the new extension is comprised of exposed light gray brickwork with a natural lime mortar, and a light, aluminum-framed glazing system. 

A children's playroom on the ground floor.

A children's playroom on the ground floor.

At the heart of the extension is a new kitchen and dining area. 

At the heart of the extension is a new kitchen and dining area. 

Adjacent to the kitchen and dining zone is a study, and a spacious living area with a custom-designed reading nook that stretches out into the garden.

The first floor extension contains the master bedroom and dressing and bathroom area.

The first floor extension contains the master bedroom and dressing and bathroom area.

All the bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the first floor. 

All the bedrooms and bathrooms are located on the first floor. 

The house is located on a site flanked by two other 1920s brick buildings with elongated, north-facing gardens that are about 131 feet deep. 

Part of the house was retained, the thermal fabric was upgraded, and circulation was improved with a more fluid, compact floor plan.

Part of the house was retained, the thermal fabric was upgraded, and circulation was improved with a more fluid, compact floor plan.

Oatlands site plan

Oatlands site plan

Oatlands ground floor plan

Oatlands ground floor plan

Oatlands first floor plan

Oatlands first floor plan


Project Credits: 

 Architecture, interior and lighting design: Soup Architects  / @souparchitects

Builder: Verve Concepts

Structural engineering: BTA Structural Design 

Landscape design: Rosalind Millar Landscape Design  

Kitchen: Roundhouse