GRAND DESIGN AWARDS 2013 - SHORTLIST
The property, on a quiet street in West London, had originally been two houses and had been awkwardly combined some years earlier to form a single dwelling. Now owned by a family with two small children, those clumsy connections no longer worked.
The brief for Bureau de Change was three-fold: to open up the ground floor and connect it with the garden, to provide a generous family living space at the rear and to clearly define the spaces and their usage.
To maximise the space, key dividing walls between and within the two properties were removed and the old stairs replaced with oak cantilevered open treads. This added light, a sense of space and created a view, from the front door through to the garden.
An oak-wrapped box containing storage, partitions and a new cloakroom, forms the 'heart' of the space and provides a threshold between old and new, formal and informal. The rear facade is enveloped in 11 metres of glass forming a new kitchen and living space. At its edges the glazing appears to 'climb' over the building, creating skylights underneath which spaces have been carefully planned for eating, relaxing and cooking.
The project aims to be a canvas for the house, its inhabitants and their belongings. A simple materials palette of timber, white resin and glass was chosen to sit alongside old floorboards, cornicing and London stock brickwork.
Views were a key consideration – from the front door to the garden, down onto the skylights (where gutters are hidden in the structural frames) and across spaces.
The 'heart' of the home – the oak-wrapped box - is visible from every point of the ground floor. It performs multiple very practical functions, but the view is kept pure by hiding this beneath a simple routed oak structure.
In the extension, the facade maximises light in dining areas and limits light and potential heat intake in others – e.g: above the TV. Metalwork, which could give a 'heavy' feeling, is minimised with fine frames on the windows and a small beam to support the glass 'ceiling'.
Photography: Eliot Postma