The property was previously dark and poorly arranged, a common issue with many Lower Ground Floor properties in the area. The clients wanted to rearrange their flat to allow the family to grow and enjoy the location whilst also creating stronger connections with the garden.
MW Architects realised there was an opportunity to extend the flat into the garden to the benefit of both the internal and external spaces. The flat has been reversed so that the living areas now address the garden directly whilst a series of light wells mean the bedrooms are not compromised by poor natural light. The previously overgrown garden has been given definition by the articulated form of the extension allowing the loss of area to be offset by better use of the available space.
By considering the key requirements of the communal areas of the family home three distinct spaces were defined. The ‘living area’ becomes a place for reading bed time stories and watching movies. The ceiling is lowered to create the intimate feeling of an inglenook and to avoid blocking light to the rear bedroom. The living room is a place to withdraw to from the grander dining area which occupies the heart of the home and can extend outside onto the patio. The kitchen overlooks the whole property with views towards the front gate to see visitors arriving and also views of the back garden to watch the kids playing. The stepped ceilings give a sense of defined spaces for living, dining, and cooking within a looser open plan layout that can adapt over time to suit different occasions.
By adding these three individual spaces within an unusual articulated form the previously dark and awkward lower ground floor flat has been transformed into a bright family home with strong physical and visual connections to the garden.
MW Architects worked with the client, who is a landscape architect, to create a further series of external spaces that relate to the interiors. Large windows meet the floor with planting beds running into the reveals creating the illusion that the planting can enter the interiors, blurring the boundary between inside and out. An external ‘living room’ relates directly to the interior living room with a large pivot door providing undisrupted access for the activity within to overflow into the garden. The window cills are set at seat height and the deep reveals provide a setting to relax on the boundary between inside and out. One window wraps itself around a corner to further open up the interior and blur the edge of the extensions external appearance.
The external treatment of the extension follows the pattern of the existing building with a mix of rendered walls and brickwork. The brickwork provides a varied texture as a backdrop to the planting whilst the rendered walls help to bounce light into the light wells.
The result is a relaxed and modest space that feels secluded due to its sunken position and yet remains bright and airy – an unusual and successful combination.