In with the Old and with the New

In with the Old and with the New

Scenario Architecture
London, United Kingdom
Project Year
Private Houses
Matthew Clayton

In with the Old and with the New

Scenario Architecture as Architects

Our clients lived in this ground-floor flat for years before deciding to renovate. Its dilapidated glass conservatory froze in winter, overheated in summer and restricted natural light coming into the adjacent sitting room. But its generous proportions offered great potential for a redesign.


The challenge?

To design a modern extension with plenty of natural light while respecting the segmented layout of the original Victorian structure. In an East London conservation area, this wouldn’t be easy.


We collaborated with local planners to secure support for our bold proposal: a glazed rear extension with a sustainably-sourced timber-clad frame housing the kitchen and dining area. The home’s original rear wall remains intact, with its windows and doorway re-purposed as internal “balconies”.


What was the brief?

Scenario Architecture was approached by our clients, a professional couple, to rethink their flat design. They have owned it for over a decade and felt it is time for a radical change. We worked together to develop a very extensive brief noting down all their requirements and well as aspirations for their newly designed home. The property is a ground floor and basement flat conversion of a beautiful and unusually large Victorian villa, located in a conservation area in Hackney, London.


The flat itself was very dark, as in addition to being north facing, it had a very large old and poorly built conservatory which blocked further light into the living area. Due to being freezing in winter and overheated in summer the conservatory itself was not in use at all.


What were the key challenges?

Planning presented the first challenge in this project. We designed a very large and uniquely shaped rear extension to the flat, and completely removed the rear wall of the flat to the new extension. Following extensive negotiation, we obtained planning permission for the scheme as designed.

Eventually our clients decided to proceed with more modest interior alteration while keeping the exterior proposal as designed. They wanted us to find a way of keeping more of the existing elements of the house and not opening up the spaces completely. This presented a new challenge, as we all wanted wanted to keep the exterior as in the existing planning permission while re designing the interior to fit. This was found to be a very interesting and productive process resulting in an exciting and unique design solution.


The new extension was redesigned to now accommodate Kitchen and dining area with a small sitting area around it facing the garden. In order to keep and respect the original structure and features as much as possible, the original back facade openings were kept , creating internal internal balcony, overlooking the dinning area and garden beyond it, while the living room with its original features was left as existing keeping a cozy and more traditional space.


What were the solutions?

The old and new spaces are connected via a staircase through once of the original openings of the living room, leading down to the kitchen and garden level. While the newly designed seating area at the extension is integrated into the stairs.

The new back facade is extensively glazed allowing for both unobstructed views to the redesigned rear garden and for light to penetrate all the way to the interior of the flat. Using Scottish larch cladding creates integration with the natural environment of the rear garden, gives a warm and pleasant view from the neighbouring properties and allows for an unusually shaped volume following the curves of the design to reflect all the interior design actions.

The result is a unique transitional space between the exterior and the interior of the house, creating a unique combination of both continuity and separation within the same space.

Project team
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