We have recently completed this new family home for a constrained back garden site in a Hackney Conservation Area, formerly occupied by a run-down garage and workshop.
Our brief was to design an imaginative and engaging contemporary home for the small site, measuring only 11m by 8m, whilst sticking to a volume established by a historic planning application. Working within the very tight constraints of the site, planning requirements and the previous permission we worked with our client to develop a new approach to the project and gained planning permission in June 2016.
We started by re-thinking the relationship between the house and the street, reversing the typical approach for back garden houses in London Conservation Areas, that are often placed behind a wall and so turn their back on the street. By removing any visual connection with the street such houses feel disconnected and confined.
Instead, we designed the house to have a direct visual connection with the street, views in and out of the ground floor living spaces and basement bedrooms being carefully manipulated with louvred screens of weathering steel. Due to the detailed design of the screens, passers-by are offered no more than a fleeting glimpse into the house whilst the residents enjoy the views and additional daylight that wouldn’t be possible if the house was positioned behind a wall. The screens also allow floor-to-ceiling glazing to be used without the need for curtains or blinds to provide privacy.
The three bedrooms and two bathrooms are in the basement of the house, enjoying ample daylight because they are arranged around external courtyards which gain additional light through the privacy screens. The courtyard spaces also provide vital external amenity and cycle storage space.
The house has a refined materials palette of ochre brickwork, anodised aluminium windows, weathering corten steel, concrete floor tiles and both oak and white joinery. Tactile fittings such as handles and handrails are picked out in brass.
The house has been designed to be extremely low energy, with photovoltaic solar panels, super-insulation and underfloor heating. A sedum green roof reduces water run-off from the house which fills the entirety of the plot.