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Cornerstone House carved out of Edwardian townhouse by Merrett Houmøller

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The north London home was the London and Sheffield-based studio’s inaugural commission

Responding to a brief to modernise the historic house, Merrett Houmøller has reorganised the domestic layout and removed floors and walls. Cooking, dining and living spaces have moved to the basement floor, while bedrooms and living areas are on the ground and first floors.

The ground and lower-ground floors are connected visually through a newly cut out mezzanine, with a timber and black steel staircase inserted between the two. The kitchen sits level with a garden beside an enclosed dining area which has views out through an oriel window. 

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00022

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00022

The first floor is accessed via the refurbished Edwardian central staircase. Elsewhere doorways, windows and stairs are lined with black steel or painted timber, designed as a ‘nod to Edwardian design restraint’.

The scheme also includes two home working spaces, one in the basement and the other in a rubber-clad cabin at the rear of the garden.

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00014

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00014

Architect’s view

Creating visual connections between rooms was important for this young family. Carving out walls and windows in the home’s new interconnected and layered spaces work both for practical purposes and to create a sense of dynamism throughout a once stale period property. Rooms are visually linked but physically separated, letting in light and visual movement, yet retaining privacy and spatial divides.

Marking tension between the existing Edwardian house and the new addition was important to us. Using different materials but applying them in the recurring chevron pattern allows the old and the new to have distinct identities but for the whole house to read as one entity.

Robert Houmøller, director, Merrett Houmøller

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00032

Merrett houmoller architects cornerstone house © alan williams00032

Client’s view 

Merrett Houmøller Architects has skilfully challenged the conventional house extension while creating us a beautiful and highly sociable space, which also functions as a practical and flexible family home. The team bought a fantastic energy to the project and responded to the brief with flair, allowing us to co-design concepts, detailed features and material palettes. They’ve elegantly blended the home’s period charm with the new interconnected modern living space, the combination of which has injected a sense of drama previously lacking.

Merrett houmoller  architects section bb cornerstone house

Merrett houmoller architects section bb cornerstone house

Project data

Start on site April 2016
Completion December 2017
Gross internal floor area 262m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 287m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT Minor Works Contract
Construction cost Undisclosed
Architect Merrett Houmøller Architects
Client Private
Structural engineer Michael Hadi Associates
Landscape consultant Field & Waite Design
Approved building inspector MLM
Main contractor Aston World
CAD software used Vectorworks

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