The architect-owners of a mid-20th-century Brutalist house in the Highgate section of London wanted it updated, but didn't have the time to do it themselves. Knowing that Duggan Morris Architects shared their appreciation for the original building's aesthetic, they hired the firm to execute a thorough renovation.
Design concept and solution: The program revolved around the twin strategies of retention and invention. The most obvious retention was the renovation of the external blockwork to closely match its original state from 1967. Where elements were replaced, the team sought to replicate the original with close matching contemporary components. For example, the rear glazing and prism were replaced with double-glazed units designed to closely match the original, while the thin screed layer at ground floor level was removed and replaced with a new build-up of insulation, a wet under-floor heating system, and a polished concrete topping.
The layout of the property was largely retained, however the primary thrust of the project involved removing two main supporting cross walls and replacing them with a new arrangement of steel beams and columns. The intention here was to create an open plan flexible living arrangement, which could take greater advantage of the south-facing rear-glazed façade. The steel columns and beams hold up the building, but also clearly communicate where the major alterations have taken place.
Working with a landscape architect, the team sought to extend the grid pattern of the house out into the rear garden, thus integrating building and landscape firmly. At roof level, a sedum layer was installed to enhance building insulation, while at the same time extending the landscape up over the building back to the front gardens and street. Nine mature Himalayan birch trees have been planted in a new wild flower meadow at the rear, and a large tulip tree now occupies a new planter.
The house won a Royal Institute of British Architects Manser Medal for the best new house in the UK in 2011.
Completion Date: September 2010
Gross square footage: 2153 sq. ft.
Total construction cost: £500,000
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Environmental Services: Banyards (www.banyards.co.uk)
CAD system, project management, or other software used: Bentley Microstation iV8; Sketch up
Wood: Hardwood timber frames
Metal doors: (Fineline LTD
Security devices: Vulcan alarms
Cabinet hardware: JMS joinery
Paints and stains: Dulux paint, Sadolin wood stain
Floor and wall tile:
Tables: Original Nomos table by Norman Foster
Add any additional building components or special equipmentthat made a significant contribution to this project: