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Contemporary Lean-To

Doma Architects

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Project Name

Contemporary Lean-To

Project Status


Year Completed



66 sq. meters


  • General Contractor: Brookes Contracting
  • Structural Engineer: Blue Sky Consulting

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This project is on the longlist for the RIBA 2016 House of the Year Award.

Project Description


This delightful and ingenious project provides a direct connection between the ground floor, the basement and the garden of a large Victorian semi-detached property in the Harrogate Conservation area. The only access to the garden was previously down steep external stone steps from the kitchen, which was dangerous for a young family. The basement rooms had already been converted by a former owner to habitable rooms, but were only used by the client as storage space due to their dark unwelcoming nature.

Doma Architects have enhanced the basement rooms and added a small extension to the side that encloses a new stair and provides a contemporary take on a traditional lean-to. It refers to the overhanging soffit and eaves’ details of the existing house, with the glazed wall framed in a crisply detailed overhanging soffit. The extension is clad in matte black Marley Eternit fiber cement cladding, making a contemporary reference to the slates of the existing roof.

The project unlocks the potential of the whole house. The design draws the garden into the house and effectively creates a completely new floor of accommodation, producing a warm cozy environment for the family and fully meeting their brief. The understated name of the project does not begin to describe the transformative nature of the remodeled kitchen, dining, staircase to garden and the new connection of the basement rooms.

The removal of an existing internal staircase has freed up space to install a new utility area, playroom and sitting room overlooking the garden. The palette of materials of wide plank oak flooring, white plastered walls, rugs and built-in bookshelves offers the perfect solution.

If this is a 'lean to’ then it is a beautifully esoteric one, based on simple geometries and accommodating a viewing gallery on to the stair with its own deep reveals. In sum it offers a modern twist on 21st century living, with beautiful angular glazed walls following the simple building form. The result is a little gem.
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