The light fantastic
St Peter's Road 'The clients were fantastic. They were very determined and had a real belief in what we were doing, ' says Nicholas Boyarsky of Boyarsky Murphy Architects, describing the refurbishment and extension of a 1950s west London house. It's just as well, given that the project took three separate proposals to get past Richmond planning department and was at planning stage for 18 months.
Built in 1954 by architect David Wisdom, the house is situated in the middle of St Margaret's, a smart Victorian estate. Residents still hold regular community events in the large communal gardens at the rear of the house, which originally incorporated pleasure gardens and boating lakes.
The clients' brief to the architect was the commonly cited 'light and space', but they also wanted to add an extra floor. Planning restrictions meant that the height of the front elevation had to remain the same, so the pitched roof had to stay, at least at the front.
Boyarsky Murphy has added a large glassfronted porch with Delabole slate floor, which protrudes out under the front door and into the front driveway, connecting the spaces. The porch creates a contemporary feel to the entrance and the glass allows extra light inside.
The rear of the house faces south-west and the clients were keen to exploit the light hitting the rear elevation, pulling it through the rest of the house. Having used a summer house at the end of the garden as an office for the past 13 years, they also wanted to make the home into a practical live/work base.
Inside, the staircase has been reversed and now faces the front entrance. A laminated glass wall acts as a balustrade and offers support for the open-plan stairs.
Part of the living room interior wall has been removed and replaced entirely with glass. Upstairs, the landing floor has been replaced with clear glass so that those on the ground floor can enjoy views of the sky through the second-floor dormer windows.
Through the kitchen, to the rear of the house, a large ground-floor extension has been added, constructed from structural glass and allowing 180-degree views of the garden. A small roof light provides ventilation and a large glass ellipse in the ceiling offers views of the sky.
Zen lights pick out the shape of the ellipse and are inset and scattered across the ceiling, creating an alternative night-time ambience.
At the top of the staircase on the first floor is the new home office, which was originally the master bedroom. Also at first floor level, the architect has added a large decked balcony terrace, accessed through French windows leading off the study so that the workspace can spill out into the open air. A sliding bookcase can be pulled across the internal doorway for extra privacy when required.
The newly added second floor is made up of the master bedroom, en suite bathroom and separate dressing room. A clerestory in the roof allows the bright light of the south facing rear of the house to fill the room.
Floor-to-ceiling glass doors fold back to create a vast open area leading onto a small balcony which runs the entire width of the room, giving views over the back garden, summer house and communal gardens beyond. Electric blinds provide privacy and shade from the sun. The curved frosted glass shower unit in the en suite extends into the bedroom and a clear glass panel allows the user to see out into the room. This and the dressing room are smaller than Boyarsky would have liked: 'The bathroom and dressing room spaces were a compromise due to the problematic pitch of the roof, ' he says.
Boyarsky Murphy designed all the bookcases, shelving units and other fixtures, including a dressing table in the top floor dressing room. They also had to accommodate the clients' passion for music by incorporating hi-fis and speakers into almost every room, including the bathroom.
Although the clients had to move into rented accommodation for nine months and lost all their loft storage space with the new extension, they are delighted with the results. Still deciding where to hang the many pictures they took down when work began, they may just regret giving up that extra storage: 'The play of light we get here now is so fantastic that we feel comfortable leaving the walls completely minimal.'
ARCHITECT Boyarsky Murphy Architects STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Greig Ling SUB-CONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS glass Firmans, Preedy; sliding/folding doors Becker; ironmongery Allgood; lighting Lightgraphix, Kreon, Genesis; underfloor heating Thermoboard; radiators Gunning; hardwood flooring Campbell Marston, FPS; slate Delabole; blinds Hallmark Blinds; sanitaryware Villeroy Bosch, Vola; rubber flooring Dalsouple; decking JSM Joinery; clerestory glazing M&S Aluminium
'The client originally came to us with a brief for a small extension to the rear of the house, ' says Nicholas Boyarsky. The project evolved to such an extent that 'in the end we had stripped out so much, there was nothing more we could take away'.
This Victorian terraced house in Hammersmith, west London, has been transformed into an impressive high-specification live/work space. The outside of the property is largely unchanged, but once inside the scale of the project is immediately apparent. The stair void and all spine walls have been removed, opening up the house to create three floors with large doubleaspect spaces.
All floors are connected by a single, continuous, cantilevered open-plan staircase, giving part of the ground floor a 9m floorto-ceiling height. The stair is supported on a new wall of steel constructed along the party wall. 'The house now has a really good invisible structure, ' says Boyarsky. The staircase, which Boyarsky describes as 'similar to the one at Wells Cathedral', leads from the rear of the house straight up to the second floor, forking off to the first floor workspace. A leather resting post provides a viewing point down to the living area from the first floor level. On the second floor landing, a glass floor emphasises the height of the structure.
'The space is now a very sociable one, and the staircase has become a room in itself, ' Boyarsky explains.
The ground floor houses a small freestanding island incorporating hob, sink and other fittings - 'the kitchen was not a priority for the client, ' Boyarsky says. The first floor has become a large study area, and on the second floor is the bedroom and en suite bathroom, which acts to 'prop' the walls apart. The bathroom is partly suspended over the stair void, a dramatic gesture exaggerated by the fact that the shower cubicle - including the floor - is constructed from Privalite glass. With a flick of a switch the glass changes from opaque to transparent, giving views down the staircase to the ground floor.
A lower ground floor was excavated from the house, making room for a guest bathroom, utility room and large storage area.
'More people are doing this now in London, particularly in this area, due to the high space premium, ' says Boyarsky. As there was no way to get machinery into the house, the first half of the basement had to be physically dug out, a process that took months and required complex underpinning.
The new extension at the back of the house has a 9m 2window so that occupants on the ground floor can take advantage of the garden views.
High-quality fittings and a minimal palette of materials have been used throughout. 'The client had a very strong feeling for good quality materials, ' says Boyarsky. The leather floor in the bedroom is made from shoulder leather to give a more interesting texture; European walnut is used for the bedroom storage system and study bookcases;
and the top floor landing uses low iron glass, chosen because it is less green than standard glass. Underfloor heating is used beneath the solid oak floors throughout, and a complex lighting system has been installed to give a large number of settings that emphasise the scale and interest of the whole space.
ARCHITECT Boyarsky Murphy Architects STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Greig Ling M&E ENGINEER McDonnell Langley CONTRACTOR Rudgard City SUBCONTRACTORS AND SUPPLIERS harness maker Catrin Coppens; joinery Edgardo Aranovitch, Robin Smith; seamstress Debbie Panford; glazing Firmans; lighting system Leax; Privalite Solaglass; sanitaryware Vola, Boffi, Grohe, Agape; ironmongery D Line, Allgood, Häfele, Charles Collinge; kitchen fittings Gaggenau, AEG, Neff; lighting Erco, Kreon, Lightgrafix, Bega; rubber flooring Dalsouple; underfloor heating Thermoboard; oak stair treads JSM Joinery; quarter sawn oak flooring FSB; blinds Hallmark Blinds, Velux