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Sanya Polescuk Architects completes brick arch extension to north London apartment

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The 190m² extension has been constructed out of a light brick speckled with overburnt green glazed bricks

Taking brick as a key driver for this scheme, Sanya Polescuk Architects has designed an extension and remodelled a large ’Italianate’ semi-detached villa in north London.

Central to the remodel was creating a more flexible space and providing dedicated storage to accommodate an extended family. Storage rooms within the corners of the flat’s layout now host services, leaving the main spaces open-plan – subtle yet contrasting treatments to the ceilings, floors and walls differentiate the spaces.

03 fresh and green sanya polescuk architects ©emanuelis stasaitis

The architect has created a study-cum-bedroom accessed off the kitchen, which can be separated off via sliding doors hidden within wall-pockets. A built-in bed can be folded down from custom joinery within the wall.

During construction, a brick barrel vault was revealed within the entrance hall. This has been cleaned and lime-washed, and retained.

The new extension has been finished in a lighter brick that that of the existing house with 10 per cent finished with overburnt green-glazed brick. Slim clerestory windows sit just beneath the brick ceiling.

A wildflower green roof sits above the new extension, creating a connection between the house and garden.

14 fresh and green sanya polescuk architects ©emanuelis stasaitis

Architect’s view

The first detail we investigated drove the whole design process: how do we maintain the illusion of great weight suspended while allowing light and head-height with a given roof level? Party wall requirements stopped us from over expanding. Everything here is made of slivers of material; at the heart of it are the vacuum insulation and brick soffit boards. Vacuum insulation has existed for a number of years in Germany but has gained traction here significantly since Kingspan added it to their range. Used on our roof in conjunction with a tapered PIR insulation, this insulation allows all the functions of a roof to take place in the smallest possible thickness.

Similarly with the handmade brick panels, Fastclad collected the bricks from site and cut them into slips mounted on interlocking strips for speedy mechanical fixing back on site. Unbelievably, they managed to extract two faces from high numbers of what turned out to be an extremely delicate brick. The bricks were batched by the manufacturer and fired with each clutch drizzled with mottled glaze, leaving a smattering of olive green over the straw-coloured surface.

The roof is finished with a planted carpet of wildflowers that should, in time, provide a riotous hat. Again, the thinnest possible solution was required and Skygarden has a pre-grown and nurtured rug of plants that can be laid over 80mm of growing medium, native wild plants being hardy and relatively unfussy roof dwellers.

We did not shy away from the pretence that this type of construction requires and this informed our choice of stretcher bond and the grid of internal ventilation holes, which expresses some clues to the artifice that suspends a large horizontal brick ‘wall’ above your head.

Fresh and green after plan

Project data

Start on site October 2018
Completion July 2019
Construction cost Undisclosed
Gross internal floor area 190m²
Architect Sanya Polescuk Architects
Structural engineer HRW
M&E consultant Enhabit
Quantity surveyor AJ Oakes & Partners
Main contractor Amirilan Ltd
CAD software used Vectorworks

Fresh and green after axo

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Readers' comments (1)

  • Now all we need is to be able to create the material illusion that the floor is the ceiling and that the windows are walls and vice-versa.
    Did Stirling and Gowan set this particular ball rolling with the brick door at Leicester University Engineering Building?

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