This renovation of a Queen Anne style family home finds a new expression for the principles of Arts and Crafts. It uses volume, scale, depth, and discrete adornment to reveal the inherent beauty in material and the craftsmanship of building. Through a series of considered cuts, subtractions and annexes, it reorients life within the home towards (the founding principle) nature.
Originally designed by Christopher Cowper in the early 1910s, this double-storey, brick home embodies the influence the Arts and Crafts movement had on architecture of the time. The deep-set entry portico, the heavy, pure formalism and timber grid strappings that line the ceilings suggest a departure from Victorian influences in favour of more simplistic adornment, a greater emphasis on the materials and an appreciation of the natural world. The design response sought to align itself with this ethos, by prioritising material, craftsmanship and nature. The architecture of the new foregrounds the nuances of the existing, and in doing so establishes a cohesive whole.
The architecture is composed of a varied and textural palette of materials (waffled concrete ceiling, solid timber, brass, steel, glass) that come together through their purity and restraint. Careful detailing and a lack of application allows the intricacies and craftsmanship of each material (the moulding, metalwork, fine solid timber carpentry and brickwork) to be celebrated and seen as distinct. That is to say, although collaboration is a part of every project, this project chooses to find expression within it.
The concrete waffle ceiling embodies the solidness of the original building and is punctuated by staggered skylights that pierce the grid, above. The volume and evenness of natural light draws you in and your eyes up. The grid form of the ceiling references the strapping on the existing ceilings and the waffle allows for the large structural span and provides acoustic baffling.
An ultra-fine skinned dining room (fully glazed) counterbalances the monumental depth and volume of the living and kitchen. This separate, sunken dining room immerses you in the act of dining, and the fineness of the glazing and detailing give you a feeling of being within the garden.
The garden is walled in the same concrete brick that envelopes that main space to stretch the scale and depth of the architecture to the garden. We worked closely with Eckersley Garden Architecture in reimaging an unprogrammed garden space that embodies the principles of a traditional garden (formal, layered, verdant). The garage parking arrangement is parallel – an efficient use of space that provides a continuous rear boundary wall . As a result of this planning, the rear garden is drawn further into the house, bringing life within the home closer to nature.
Whilst the project has a heavy focus on looking back (to celebrate the past), it also recognises the importance of looking forward. As architects, we are responsible for a building’s longevity in order to lead a sustainable practice. A palate of basic brick, general-purpose concrete and steel  have been selected for their durability.