Love thy neighbour

This project sits in the Aldersbrook Conservation Area in Wanstead, Redbridge, East London and faces one of our previous projects directly opposite.

In this instance we have been asked to take over from another architect. The initial aim was to identify cost savings but soon we discovered that the project would also benefit from a number of design amendments. And so we have ended up with a simplified structural scheme, more head height, more natural light, a better functionality of the kitchen, a new utility room plus the existing house, the extension, the new terrace and the existing garden were all brought onto the same level. We have also ‘infused’ some design character which the original scheme was lacking. This has all been achieved whilst lowering the costs.

The end-result is a brick monolith that sits solidly on top of the new terrace. Various interventions break down the scale of the new elevations: They obviously consist of various window openings but also of staggered rows of brickwork and an area where bricks have been left out. The latter has a window behind that allows light and fresh air to filter into the kitchen without compromising the outlook and security.

Two dis-positioned skylights add further seemingly abstract openings whilst providing daylight precisely where required. Further to that the first floor has received a small set back extension that just provides enough space to create a better family bathroom without affecting the rights of light of the neighbour.

The interior is kept very minimal but yet friendly: A pale ash floor sits against white and exposed brick walls. The ceiling features exposed joists and white stained plywood. The kitchen is plain white whilst the irregular shaped island is clad in white terrazzo-like Corian.

This limited material palette has a surprising addition in the shape of a facetted mirrored tile panel that is seemingly floating in front of a brick wall. This intriguing panel conceals the kitchen extractor and some shelves behind whilst constantly bouncing light around and showing off small segments of reflections. This panel is not just the all informing visual aspect of the large new open space; one can even see it from the street when walking past the house. The very movement of the onlooker deceits his eyes to think, that it is the panel that is animated. Even the occupants of our project across the road can experience this visual feast; it has thus also become an element of interest beyond the boundary and in a way connects the two buildings.

A very clever but minimal lighting scheme further enriches the in- and exterior by providing subtle light precisely where required or to enhance the surface properties of some of the finishes. In order to achieve a perfect colour match with the special window framework the client spray painted some external lights himself to an exceptional standard.

Project Data:
Area added: 25.75sqm
Contractor: SUMMIT Building Group
Structural Engineer: Constant Structural Design
Status: Completed 2019
Photos by Space Group Architects