Located in a Cambridge conservation area the house dates from the 1920s and consisted of a series of two-storey pitched-roof forms with single-storey bay windows, influenced by the nearby work of Baillie Scott.
The internal arrangement of spaces and their inter-relationships was confused and dated, and an unremarkable two-storey extension had been added to the north of the house in about 2002 that was not well integrated into the form of the house. We were asked to replace the existing conservatory with a garden room that could open up directly to a new terrace and generally re-vitalise the property in its entirety.
OW Architects developed a two-pronged approach to the alterations that were being considered. The garden room was developed as a modern extension that could be read as a separate form from the house itself. For the other alterations, however, we looked to the house’s original inspiration in order to bring an improved sense of unity to the house as a whole, both internally and externally. These alterations included a completely new northern extension with a roof that sweeps right down from the main ridge to form a low loggia on oak columns in front of a secondary entrance. The roof draws on Baillie-Scott’s powerful roof forms and contains small dormers growing out of the roof slopes to light ground-floor and first-floor rooms. The same sources inspired a new generous, fully-glazed bay window on the garden elevation to replace an existing cramped and dark space, as well as the more fluid plan of the ground floor on the garden side of the house. Here, sliding panels can be used to close off the reception rooms, while one steps down through a screen of piers to the kitchen.
The new garden room grows out of the kitchen at the lower ground level giving direct access to the new terrace. Its rectangular plan gently swings away from the main lines of the house in deference to the terrace and garden that it addresses. The oak lining to the glazing is very deep, creating spaces inside the window and outside the door to from which to enjoy the external spaces from the building in all weathers.
The strong material expression of these openings unites them as a piece of joinery from the interior and ties them to the oak-clad walls that face the terrace and garden. By contrast, the roof that runs down onto the north wall is faced with large-format clay tiles providing a rich visual and physical texture. While the extension is an unashamedly modern addition, its rich material palette, liminal spaces and garden-orientated architecture celebrate the Arts-and-Crafts inspiration for the original house.