nesting house


The design concept for this extension to a detached home in South London begins with a celebration of the prototypical form of the pitched-roof house, the silhouette of which is distorted and reconfigured in unexpected ways.

Three new volumes, seemingly extruded from the original house, become smaller as they progress, and have been twisted and pushed back to create a rhythmic, interlocking geometry. The design therefore avoids monotonous or featureless expanses, and in turn creates distinct volumes which are expressed both on the interior and throughout the stepped exterior spaces.

Inside, the entrance is conceived as a purposefully narrow, dark corridor, squeezing the inhabitant out into the bright and expansive double-height living space – a dramatic transition. Though entirely open plan, each volume steps down, creating defined areas with different uses, as well as an articulation of the three extrusions. The sensitive placement of single strip lights further delineates the three spaces. In the garden, this stepping is repeated, creating a distinct outdoor area for each interior space.

A first-floor room floats above the centre volume, a theatrical presence heightened by its surface treatment in a soot-like black acoustic render – a tactile contrast to the bright space below. Beneath, a dining area is demarcated by the floating room, simultaneously creating an intimate acoustic environment for social interaction.

Outside, the external envelope has been detailed to focus all attention on the form, with the guttering set into the concrete shell. When viewed from the back, the effect is of three staggered pitched roofs – echoing the roof-scape of the terraced street that runs alongside the house in a way that is sympathetic, yet bold. The original house has been painted a dark aubergine, and the windows replaced, producing a simplified, almost mute volume that foregrounds the addition.

The design works to simultaneously reduce the imposition of the extension, through its stepped silhouette which diminishes in size, and to emphasise a sense of heavy, grounded and quintessentially domestic form – evoking qualities of permanence and home.