Our client took the risk to purchase a derelict double-garage site at auction within the vibrant Crouch End area of North London. The project brief was to transform this site into a three-bedroom house on a tight budget whilst creating a unique contemporary design reflecting the style and character of our client.
Working closely with Haringey planning department, we developed the design - filling the site footprint - with accommodation at basement level to minimise the visible mass. An external boundary wall at ground level provides privacy with the first floor set back incorporating a curved roof formed from glue-laminated beams. The design was supported as a high-quality contrast to the traditional Victorian conservation area.
The urban nature of the site increased the constraints for the design team, with limited access or storage on site as well as complex relationships with the neighbours to untangle. Bringing in natural light without impacting neighbours’ views of amenity was also a key issue, addressed using high-level strips of glazing and rooflights, with windows only located on the front façade or onto the private courtyard space created to provide natural light down into the basement accommodation. There are also a series of rooflights built into the floors, creating lightwells down to the floors below as well as providing a connection to the outside and nature from every room.
Materially, the project uses black brickwork and charred larch cladding to contrast with the context; standing confidently on the street. The brickwork continues internally with matching panels integrating furniture into the walls. This is contrasted with a softer palette of warm materials; a light-grey resin floor and complimentary Corian worktop, with birch-faced plywood used to finish the kitchen, bathrooms and stairs, which matches the glulam timber beams that define the first floor.
The project’s sustainability credentials start with a fabric-first approach, providing a highly-insulated base. Materials have been selected for their complete embodied energy as well as robustness – with reinforced concrete, activated by underfloor heating, engineering brickwork and completely recyclable steelwork. The project also includes glulam timber beams and timber finishes internally. The house benefits from a solar array on the roof which feeds energy to an air source heat pump, providing hot water and heating for the interior, with excess energy fed back to the grid.
The constraints of the project have enhanced and inspired the architectural resolution of the design, to accommodate flexible and practical living spaces into a high-quality and spacious contemporary home. The traditional construction process met the client’s budget, with a focus on quality of the detailing. This includes bespoke designed joinery, stairs and a minimal palette of materials.
Darling House’s idiosyncratic and daring style serves to enhance the context of the street, overcoming the constraints of the project. The design blends the architecture and interior design to create a coherent design language throughout. Taking a collaborative approach, the project has delivered a unique design on a tight budget, creating a house built for urban living.
Materials Used :
1. Shou Sugi Ban – charred larch cladding
2. Grenoble Metallic – facing brickwork
3. Corian – Warm Grey – solid surfaces (kitchen, bathrooms, fitted furniture)
4. Egger Board – internal furniture and cladding panels
5. Birch-faced plywood – internal furniture and cladding panels
6. Eugenius – lighting products
7. Villeroy & Boch – all sanitaryware & tiles
8. Carlisle Brass - ironmongery