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FIRST LOOK

Marta Nowicka completes end-of-garden house in east London

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The 111m² three-level house sits on the site of a former garage at the end of a garden

’The Gouse’, a three-bedroom new-build house, has been designed by interior architect Marta Nowicka. The name is a contraction of ‘garage-house’ as it stands on a 45m² piece of land that was once the site of a dilapidated shed-cum-garage at the end of a garden. 

A major focus of the project was to conserve an ‘end-of-garden character’ and improve the street elevation, reinstating the original London yellow stock brick wall. The shed-like cedar shingle cladding to the upper part of the façade meanwhile is designed to blend with an adjacent ash tree and surrounding garden landscape.

The house is arranged over three floors with a kitchen/dining room in the basement, guest bedrooms on the ground floor, and living room and master bedroom on the first floor.

Mg 2431 copy

Mg 2431 copy

Architect’s view

The site purchased was tiny – 4 x 10m – with a metre-square ‘nodule’ off street. This set a challenge to create as much space as possible with the additional planning restrictions and neighbours’ complaints, which limited the scheme design to a 5m street elevation.

Every 100mm of space was negotiated between circulation and living spaces in order to optimise the latter. The scheme evolved into three bedrooms, two reception rooms with a central staircase carrying light down into the kitchen/dining space in the basement. The aim was to maximise space and light and minimise walls while creating cosy interiors.

The concept for the design of The Gouse stems from end of garden/shed and woodland aesthetics, creating an amusing site-specific design solution. The plot is at the end of a Victorian garden and so has an array of established trees – including a 30m ash tree, which now casts its gentle shade over the house. The exterior cedar shingle cladding blends into the tree trunk and branches while the front entrance is totally hidden into the garden wall of London stock brick. It’s a secret house, its access and presence ambiguous.

Inside, light from the first floor is optimised and flows down through the space, as well as through the garden-facing glazed rear elevation. This in turn brings the outside in – connecting the garden site to the surrounding gardens. Privacy is maintained with semi-visible ’lace’ brick wall and screens. Each floor has an open-plan element to the stairs so enhancing the feeling of space and openness – walls are avoided in communal spaces, which flow off the stair.

Mg 3855 copy

Mg 3855 copy

Project data

Start on site March 2017
Completion August 2018
Gross internal floor area 111m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 115m²
Form of contract or procurement route JCT
Construction cost £414,683
Construction cost per sqm (excluding fees) £3,605
Designer / interior architect Marta Nowicka
Client Marta Nowicka DOM Stay&Live
Structural engineer Wilde Carter Clack
Party wall notices Elden Croy Architects
Arboricultural survey Jack Stewart @ AFRICA
Basement Abtech UK  
Water & waste Coppard Contractors
Project manager Marta Nowicka
Approved building inspector JM Partnership
Main contractor & CDM co-ordinator Court Development
Annual CO2 emissions 25kg/m² 

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