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FIRST LOOK

Emergent Design reworks Grade II-listed house in Primrose Hill

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The Victorian terrace features a new suspended timber stair and ‘snug’ reading corner 

Emergent Design has completed a refurbishment to this listed, four-storey Victorian house in Primrose Hill. The project includes the transformation of the existing reception, kitchen and family areas at lower ground and ground floor levels to create a light-filled, contemporary open family space. Upper levels have been restored to reinstate many of the dwelling’s original heritage features. 

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At lower ground level, the rear of the building has been extended into a new external terrace, which steps outwards towards the existing rear garden. An elongated walk-on-glass rooflight tops the rear extension, filling the space below with natural light. The extension also reinstates an existing balcony at ground level and opens views into the garden through a bespoke bi-fold door below.

Internally, hung from a sculptural steel balustrade, an open-thread suspended staircase visually connects the new kitchen and the ‘snug’ – a secluded reading space, open to the rear garden through a large picture-frame window. The interiors were designed to emphasise views out to the garden, and were finished with a limited palette of natural materials, including Carrara marble, Pietra Laro floor slabs and European pale oak joinery. 

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Architect’s view

The listed building consent for the glazed extension required a simple detail for the rear extension that resolved the articulation between new structural spans, walk-on-glass terrace, steelwork balustrade, continuous gutter and bespoke bi-fold door system. A glulam beam was used to address insulation requirements, potential condensation and inherent flexibility to inset elements, resulting in a minimised depth and a finely crafted, ‘clean’ solution. The balustrade is solely fixed to the beam with no lateral restraints to the uneven brickwork flanking walls. The low-iron frameless, laminated glazed floor interfaced with the stainless steel continuous gutter ensures seamless weatherproofing. We have special memories of that magical moment when all elements were skilfully assembled into place!

For the suspended staircase, we designed a contemporary suspended timber stair to replace a roughly detailed staircase into the lower ground level. On one side a stringer was recessed into the wall, with the other side hung through a finely welded harp-shaped sculptural balustrade, designed and fabricated from 5mm-thick steel plates in tension. A simply detailed, wall-mounted bespoke handrail delicately illuminates the solid European pale oak treads, matching the surrounding window reveals and fitted joinery.

Marco Ortiz, director, Emergent Design

Proposed section

Client’s view

Emergent Design worked meticulously with the planning authorities to ensure the heritage of the space remained legible and was adequately restored. Working together with our contractors, Builders by Design, ED paid great attention to detail in all stages and aspects of the construction process, from structural to finishes. Our home is now a wonderful, bright and striking space for everyday family life and for hosting guests.

Kitchen plan and elevation

Project data 

Start on site March 2018
Completion December 2018
Gross internal floor area 157m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 204m²
Form of contract or procurement route Traditional (JCT MW CD 2016)
Construction cost Confidential 
Architect Emergent Design 
Client Private
Structural engineer James Frith 
Historic building consultant Michael Copeman 
Project manager Emergent Design 
CDM coordinator Emergent Design 
Approved building inspector PWC
Main contractor Builders By Design 
CAD software used Autocad
Annual CO2 emissions 104,760kg

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