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Duggan Morris reveals Grade II-listed house extension

[FIRST LOOK + PLANS + PROJECT DATA] Duggan Morris has submitted plans to refurbish and extend a grade II-listed house in North Welwyn, Hertfordshire

The 1953 house was designed by architects David and Mary Medd, who were considered to be revolutionaries in public sector architecture and school design.

As well as refurbishing and preserving the existing house Duggan Morris is extending the building to the north. This extension is made up of a series of three rooms placed within the landscape, each with a pitched roof. These rooms are connected to the main house by a lower ‘sinuous’ timber structure.

The changes will allow the house, originally built for a couple, to be transformed into a family home.

Duggan Morris Pennyfathers Lane

The architect’s view

‘The house was built in 1953 under strict cost controls typical of the austerity period, centrally positioned within a rural plot gently sloping into open fields, organised into a main dwelling and lightly rotated workshop ranges. Its original construction, judiciously preserved up to now, combined standard materials and methods with delicate finishes and bespoke componentry built on site. The historic relevance of the house lies in this subtle conjunction of orthodox and exquisite elements.

‘The proposed extension is composed of three discrete masonry rooms delicately placed in to the landscape. Each double-pitched volume aligns to either the Listed Building or the northern boundary, following the slight curvature in the topography on which the main house sits. Likewise, the position of a mature walnut tree and two silver birches informs the interstice between the elements, resulting in a sequence of recessed and more prominent rooms breaking away from the continuous frontage of the main house.

‘The rooms are connected together and to the main house by a lower sinuous structure made of slender carpentry components, continuously glazed which establishes strong visual connections through the site. With no specific function, the intermediate spaces created allow for a range of uses by the family. Subtle changes of direction rising from the main rooms creates a direct relationship to the existing building arrangement in both its plan and roof geometries.

The additions sit on a continuous low concrete plinth

‘The new components sit on a continuous low concrete plinth of fine exposed-aggregate that mediates with the gentle change of level, forming exterior areas to the open landscape or around the walnut tree and light wells serving subterranean rooms.

‘The plinth also seamlessly connects the interior space into the existing structure of pathways along and across the site. The arrangement of buildings and paths on the site results in a refined affirmation of the various instances of the landscape: domestic (open garden), productive (allotments) and wild (woodland).

‘The extension aims at a continuous and abstract use of materials and constructive systems found in the existing house – loadbearing masonry, timber roof and tiles. But instead of imitating their disposition and layering, they are used to form unitary elements where they contemporarily assume mass, structure and surface roles. To this arrangement, a muted shift of tonal and tactile qualities of materials precedes the need for sophisticated functions. This material approach also integrates the effortless beauty of Medd’s carpentry – bare structures seeking beauty through an unfettered celebration of function rather than through decoration.’

Duggan Morris Pennyfathers Lane

Project data

Location Welwyn North
Type of project Single dwelling
Client Private
Architect Duggan Morris Architects
Quantity surveyor David Flower
Funding Private
Tender date Q2 2014
Start on site date Q3 2014
Completion date Q3 2015
Contract duration 12 months (anticipated)
Total cost TBC

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