013 A ROOM IN AN EXTENDED GARDEN

COMMISSION

2020 - ONGOING
The project involves the refurbishment and extension of a house located close to the banks of the River Thames in an area of west London characterised by large houses with secluded gardens.

Situated on ground once occupied by a grand riverside house built in the 18th century and destroyed by fire in the early 1900s, the house is one of eight identical semidetached dwellings constructed during the interwar period. The client - a family who have lived in the house for over thirty years - were recently able to acquire additional land to the rear of the property. Finding themselves in possession of a much larger garden, the client wished to remodel and extend the ground floor of the building, taking advantage of the extra space at the back of the house. 

The proposal aims to reconfigure the existing ground level accommodation, forming spaces with a greater sense of individuality. The kitchen, currently a small room of very narrow proportions, is widened to create a more generous space for the client (an Italian family with a great fondness for food) to cook within and socialise. The existing living room, consisting of a single long room spanning the length of the house from garden to street, is reorganised as two rooms, creating a more intimate living space at the front of the house and a study at the back. Uniting the rear accommodation of the existing house is a new family room - an adaptable space with its feet in the garden.

A steel column situates itself midway between the two perimeter walls of the room, grasping a timber beam like an outstretched arm. It acts to significantly reduce the scale of the structural members within the roof construction, and spatially distinguish one side of the room from the other. Adding to this, the garden-facing elevation is gently inflected on the side closest to the house’s adjoining neighbour, redirecting one half of the interior’s outlook towards the garden, at the end of which stands a mature and particularly beautiful magnolia tree.

The flank walls of the room are physically disengaged from the house’s neighbours on both sides lending it a distinct appearance, like that of a pavilion, or temple, in the garden. 

Windows located on both of the flank elevations provide additional natural light and ventilation. The largest of these, a sliding frame of generous proportions, permits access to a sheltered lightwell between the garden room and the neighbouring building’s elevation within which herbs and seedlings may be cultivated.

Further natural light is admitted into the room through two large skylights positioned above a soffit composed of exposed joists. The absence of surface decoration in the new room serves to visually differentiate it from the rooms of the existing house, all of which are clothed in plaster and adorned with cornices, architraves and skirtings.

Large sliding windows are positioned on the outside face of the principal elevation, their top and bottom rails concealed from view inside. This subtle detail has the effect of diminishing the presence of the windows separating the interior from the garden, bringing the two environments perceptually closer together. The experience of inhabiting the room is accordingly one of feeling immersed in the garden and house simultaneously.