When a London couple set about adapting their Edwardian home to better suit their young family, the obvious solution was to build a rear extension. The challenge, however, was that two neighboring extensions overlooked the rear of the property and compromised privacy. In search of a solution that would maintain privacy yet allow for plenty of natural light, architecture studio Proctor and Shaw looked to an unusual source of inspiration—car design.
"We had to think laterally about maintaining the residents’ privacy and access to light while still fulfilling the brief to create a light and bright home," says architect Mike Shaw. "To meet this challenge, we designed a wraparound L-shaped extension with angular glazing. The resulting apex form includes four distinct ‘quarter-glass’ windows of various sizes. Just as cars have quarter-glass windows designed to the body of the vehicle, we have configured glazing to best fit and service the new family space."
The extension is essentially a large family room that opens the rear of the home out into the garden. It also provides more interior space by extending into the unused side yard and replacing a poorly performing conservatory. Although the plan is open, the space is arranged over a series of stepped levels that define the various zones—kitchen, dining, and outdoor terrace—and add significant height to the space.
The arrangement and size of the windows is essential to the project’s success. A large window above the glazed sliding doors draws light into the extension, and another frames a cozy seat that protrudes into the garden. A third offers a view into a newly created courtyard, which doubles as a light well. The fourth quarter glass is the roof oculus, which is set into deep timber beams that control views to the neighboring property.
The clients wanted the new family space to feel like the social heart of the home, while still offering a sense of sanctuary. To achieve this, they introduced a warm palette of muted copper and duck-egg tones. The Douglas fir used in the ceiling is complemented by soft gray floor tiles and a pink microcement wall and backsplash. The floor tiles extend to the patio, creating a seamless transition between the interior and exterior spaces.
The floating shelves—which feature elegant underlighting—are also crafted from Douglas fir timber. A small collection of potted plants on the shelf adds a touch of greenery, enhancing the connection with the back garden and further softening the space.
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"The exposed timber roof structure creates warmth and interest, complemented by calming tones of copper, microcement, and soft green cabinetry," says Shaw. "There’s a lovely movement in this space, a gradual progression from the house through the new space out to the garden, articulated through stepped plateaus that create distinctly separate zones despite there really being one large space."
The centerpiece of the extension is a custom kitchen island. Set atop a birch base, the copper counter adds warmth to the space, and the material is echoed in carefully considered details throughout—such as the sink, tap, and kitchen rails. To save on budget, the rest of the kitchen cabinetry is from IKEA and has been "hacked" with custom doors to achieve the same materiality as the rest of the interior. The dining table is another custom element designed by Proctor and Shaw.
"The end result is an extraordinary space that has transformed the way we live," say the clients. "There are so many things we love about it—the height, the folded ceiling, the Douglas fir beams, the way the copper-topped island reflects pink in the sunlight, the use of microcement inside and out, and the dramatic view of the extension from the outside at night."
Builder: Roberto Nunez
Structural Engineer: Jenson Hunt Design
Lighting Design: Proctor and Shaw Architects
Interior Design: Proctor and Shaw Architects
Cabinetry Design: Proctor and Shaw Architects
Photography: Ståle Eriksen
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