ARCHITECTURE: Future Building or Project
Somner Macdonald Architects
As with many projects initiated in lockdown, the initial consultations and ‘viewings’ with the client were online and virtual – it was a strange start. The client’s brief had ambition that equalled the opportunity presented by the existing house, and while they didn’t know what the wanted, they did know what the didn’t want. From those initial virtual encounters, we developed a concept based around a roof scape for a new extension, reimagining the kitchen with complementary open plan dining and a connected living space. A ‘back door’, boot room, pantry and downstairs loo were all accommodated too with the main spaces directly addressing the garden views and southerly aspect.
Of significance in integrating the extension into the main house is the creation of a long view from the formal front entrance door, left through to the courtyard that terminates the view at the back door. From the back door you enter via a petite courtyard, conceived as a Japanese inspired raked gravel landscape, walled in by a new garage, the boot room and living space. This simple courtyard helps to reduce the impression of scale to the front, helping the extension appear as a simple single storey addition which allows the main house and entrance to remain front and centre.
The form of the extension maximises the spatial arrangement of the kitchen diner and living spaces while at the same time being subservient to the impressive main house. We tried to match the house’s sense of scale but remain obviously an extension. The roofs make a play on the existing expansive roof which is dominated by hips, valleys and of course the terracotta plain tiles.
Materials were selected to both match the sense of permanence and warmth which the house exudes. Buff waterstruck bricks were chosen for this very reason, complementing the house, creating a solid base for the roof to sit on while subtly moving the arts and crafts language and architecture on a couple of centuries. Large areas of glazing with minimal frames further accentuate the roof’s sense of scale.
Internally, those two principal roofs offer top light volumes that float over the spaces beneath them, with the brick base carrying through from outside to inside. The internal effect is a calmness derived from reduced material palette of brick, polished concrete floors, washed oak and broken plan spatial arrangement that flows effortlessly out to the south facing garden and Hermitage of Braid beyond.