The refurbishment of a Victorian house by Studio Ben Allen has been named London’s best new home improvement project in the Don’t Move, Improve! awards.
The House Recast is the overall winner of this year’s contest, which is organised annually by New London Architecture (NLA) to showcase the diversity of homes in the UK capital.
The House Recast
The owners, a retired couple, approached Studio Ben Allen to reconsider the piecemeal rear façade of their end-of-terrace Victorian house in north London and to provide a new kitchen and two new bathrooms – one to be on the ground floor and accessible.
Studio Ben Allen was encouraged by the client to use the project as a testbed for ideas. Led by Omar Ghazal and Ben Allen, they used the project as a vehicle to push the boundaries of off-site fabrication – something that they felt was lacking in smaller-scale residential or alteration projects.
The architects were keen to consider how the extension could demonstrate the exemplary use of pigmented patterned concrete as both structure and architectural finish.
Green patterned columns and beams create a framework for the salmon colour structural wall panels of the first-floor bathroom. Internally the use of pigmented concrete continues – with stairs, counters, sink, floors, benches, bath and washbasin all cast in pigmented concrete.
The use of offsite fabrication greatly reduced time on site, the main frame and walls of the extension being erected in just three days.
A second theme is the use of louvred vaulted ceilings to diffuse light down into both the kitchen and bathroom. A double-height space connects the new ground floor spaces with a new mezzanine on the first floor which in turn is connected to the main stair.
This void allows light to penetrate deep into the house while also creating visual and aural connections through the house. Additional openings create similar connections on a smaller scale from the living room, dining room and study to this central void.
Innovative use of concrete
The design team tried to push the boundaries of one material – namely concrete.
The innovative use of concrete is not just as structure or architectural finish but as both combined.
This approach was inspired by the surrounding Victorian architecture, where the brickwork is patterned and decorated while also being a load-bearing material whilst having speed and quality by being fabricated offsite.
The colours and use of materials were also inspired by high Victorian architecture in terms of richness. The bathroom is intended to have a hammam-like feel.
The pattern on the main facade is mirrored in the balustrade which was CNC cut by the architect and delivered as an easy-to-assemble kit of parts. Other bespoke details are the shower and basin and bath spouts which are bespoke.
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Project Team: Ben Allen, Omar Ghazal (project leader) / Photography: French+Tye