Project DescriptionFROM THE ARCHITECTS:
Extension to a Victorian semi-detached villa that creates a ‘Janus’ house with a fox-shaped rear façade and a new floor plan designed to give a generous space for the family.
The client’s brief was to reorganize and extend the back of their Victorian house to make a generous family space for cooking, eating and relaxing that addressed the garden and encouraged outdoor play. Being in Islington’s Mercers Road Conservation Area, there were constraints on development and the client’s previous planning application had been rejected. The design approach was to have a strong concept for the remodelling that directly addressed the Conservation Area guidance.
The design proposed creates what architect Peter Smithson described as a ‘Janus building’: a structure that has two faces like the Roman God of beginnings and ends. The extension would therefore be made of the same red facing bricks as the front façade and in order to heighten their decorative effect they change orientation and bond depending on which element in the elevation they belong to. This also broke the extension façade into elements that matched the scale and informality of the dormers and extensions of the houses’ garden façades.
As the garden faces north, efforts were made to improve daylight to the rear of the building and provide optimal opportunities for outdoor living. A paved terrace was laid that swells into the garden at exactly the spot where the sun lingers longest in the summer months. A kink in the garden, where an unattractive garage had been erected in the 1980’s, became a small winter garden looking back at the house. A rich interior material and colour palette gives the otherwise open plan a comfortable, domestic quality.