The brief was to design a side extension to replace a dilapidated conservatory. with a new living space / yoga studio. The house is a fairly traditional brick building, built in the late 1990s on a narrow plot. The aim was to give this part of the house a new more generous well lit living space, accessed off the kitchen, improving the house’s connection to its garden.
The site is located in Crouch End. It sits adjacent the Parkland Walk, a tree lined pedestrian and cycle route following the course of a disused railway line running between Finsbury Park and Alexandra Palace.
The site is also a conservation area characterised by large Victorian houses interspersed with modern apartment blocks. The aim was to keep the extension low to the existing fence and discrete from the street.
A second key constraint was the large beech tree growing very close to the house. The proposal was to create a lightweight timber structure, sitting upon the reused foundation of the existing conservatory. This would avoid the risk of harming the tree’s roots from excavation or piling.
The plan is a ‘perfect square’, with columns in each of the four corners. These define a simple well proportioned room. Each side is then divided into three equal bays, with intermediate columns set out at the 2/3rd points to reduce the depth of the perimeter beam. A deep central ridge connects two of these third points on a diagonal line, creating an axis from the existing kitchen door to the garden’s side entrance gate. Rafters span from the glazed side walls onto this diagonal beam. This geometry creates two roof planes which appear to be rising on one side whilst falling on the other, but are in fact both at a constant pitch. Down the two side elevations are sliding glass doors, also divided into three. Triple sliders allow 2/3ds of each elevation to be opened up to the garden.
Both structural frame, sliding doors and cladding to the end walls are all in Douglas Fir, with a hand oiled finish. The floor is engineered oak run through from the main house. The extension has under floor heating. Floor, end walls and roof are heavily insulated. The roof finish is a dark coloured standing seam zinc.
The design was refined in close collaboration with specialist timber frame contractor EmanuelHendry Ltd. The building was prefabricated off site in their Devon workshop, where it was fully assembled to ensure an accurate fit. It was then dismantled into large pieces, brought to site on a truck and craned into place a single morning. The roof framing, cladding and enclosure was completed over a two week period in winter, with the project finishing the week prior to Christmas 2019.