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Ollier Smurthwaite unwraps 'seamless' add-on to Victorian semi

Emerging outfit Ollier Smurthwaite has completed this £80,000 brick and glass addition to a Victorian semi-detached house in Chorlton, Manchester

Set up by fomer BDP and OMI Architects colleagues Matthew Ollier and Alaster Smurthwaite, the Manchester-based practice delivered the scheme in 24 weeks.


The architect’s view

The existing rear garden could be accessed through a door in the rear of the kitchen or through a gate from the passage at the side of the house. However, strangely, no ground floor windows faced onto the long rear garden. The house no longer met the needs of the family’s growing children but the family didn’t want to move home and be uprooted from their surroundings.

The building dissolves into the garden and sky

A simple brief was generated that required an extension to the existing ground floor kitchen/dining and living areas and a refurbishment of the basement to provide additional living accommodation and more storage. The project undertook the removal of the back ground floor corner of the house and the opening up of the rear of the house and therefore the long view of the garden. The intention was to adapt and create enough living space to resolve the imbalance of the extent of bedroom versus living accommodation. The intention was to mesh the new with the old, not to stick a new lean-to to the existing.

The result is the feeling of two areas to the ground floor, one older and more traditional to the front of the house and one newer and more contemporary to the rear. The transition between the two spaces, the fulcrum, contains WC, utility with external side door, and a corridor space that conceals vast amounts of coat and shoe storage. This space tempers the difference in feeling between the cellular and the open and draws an enticing top lit view from the front door through to the rear garden.

Internally there is little evidence of where the existing house stops and the new build starts. This is intentional to allow the spaces to merge, reducing the cellular feeling of the existing house as it is traversed, front to back. No downstand beams are visible and changes in ceiling heights are positioned to encourage feelings of security, warmth or openness.

The new building work is completed in a common brick to the sides to match the existing building and full height structurally adhered glazed units fixed back to a cantilevering steel frame to the rear. The glazed units wrap around the corner of the rear and side elevation to give a lightness to the rear of the building and a further feeling that the building dissolves into the garden and sky. As the glazing has no framing the connection to the garden is further enhanced, something echoed by the timber floor stretching seamlessly out from the new works to form an external sitting area at the head of the garden. 

Ollier Smurthwaite's extension Devonshire Road, Chorlton, Manchester

Ollier Smurthwaite’s extension Devonshire Road, Chorlton, Manchester

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