Working with developer Arrant Land, 31/44 Architects has completed a new speculative development on an end-of-terrace plot in East Dulwich, south London. The location is a typical Victorian terrace ubiquitous in London’s suburbs, but this newcomer is anything but pedestrian. The house shares the visual language of the pattern-book brick Victorian houses with their ornamental arched entrances, but it is designed in a contemporary idiom and confidently terminates the terrace with a highly distinct proposition.
The ambition of this project has been to design a contemporary dwelling which references and evolves the character and rhythm of the terrace. Red House takes its name from the warm red brick, which is evident as a highlight brick in the existing terrace and is used here as the main building material.
The principal architectural move on the main elevation has been to appropriate the arched entranceway of the terrace into a large window onto a double-height hallway. The window is frameless, the arch is stripped of detail and the span is achieved with a precast, pigmented concrete panel. The patterning in the panel is redolent of the decorative tiling found in the floor thresholds in the entrances of Victorian terraces.
The site was formerly occupied by an end-of-terrace garage. The new house offers a blueprint for building on small, urban brownfield plots, as part of an emerging movement by independent developers to densify London through fine-grain, incremental development.
The plan is cleverly designed to fit a spacious three-bedroom house with flexible reception spaces onto a tight brownfield plot, without compromising privacy for the occupants or neighbours.
On entering the house into a double-height atrium, a short flight of steps descends to ground level, where the plan opens out to a kitchen/diner and two reception spaces. A central glazed courtyard and rear courtyard bring natural light and the outdoors deep into the plan, creating a series of connected spaces interspersed with pockets of sunlight and greenery, which can be enjoyed in all seasons. The open plan living spaces are unified with a black concrete floor and animated by a wood burning stove housed within the exposed concrete plinth of the chimney, whose red brick stack rises up beyond the roofline, tethered to the house by concrete supports.
A dramatic oak staircase top-lit by the front window leads up to the two bedrooms and bathroom on the first floor, and master bedroom with en-suite shower room at the top.
The house is currently for sale on The Modern House.
Will Burges, Director, 31/44 Architects said:
“It has been a pleasure working with Arrant Land. We share the same ambition to create carefully detailed and characterful homes – taking difficult sites and making opportunities out of them. It’s unusual for a speculative developer to invest so much time and consideration in perfecting the details. This is the first project we are working on with Arrant Land, our next project with them is a development of two houses and six apartments that explores the versatility of Whitstable’s Victorian semi-detached villas with their strong gables and decorative bay windows. These two projects have always been considered alongside each other – the small, niche London development affords a greater level of detail and research that in turn informs the design of its coastal sibling.” Duncan Blackmore,
Director, Arrant Land said:
“We think deeply about matching projects to practices that combine the personalities, talents and enthusiasms likely to get the ‘best’ results - in the finished building and its efficient delivery, but also in more intangible ways: enjoyment, mutual learning and so on.
This is an ambitious building on a difficult site, and 31/44 has devoted significant energy to its design and realisation. Bringing this project into existence has been as intense an experience as would be the case for a much larger project. There are absolutely no economies of scale and the volume of decisions required for a house of this complexity is absurd really. As client, we have tried to honour and act as enabler for those efforts – attempting to see individual decisions in the widest possible context, rather than as items to be weighed and costed. Our individual house projects have a dual function for us. They are distinct and highly specific pieces of architecture in their own right, but they also represent real-world research in which we hope to test principles and relationships which can be deployed at a larger scale.