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Extending inside out

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working details; The clean lines of a kitchen extension to a Twickenham semi link the garden with the living space

Many architectural practices start life designing small domestic extensions; a good example is Greg Shannon and Michael Loates-Taylor, who set up practice in Clerkenwell 18 months ago. What distinguishes their extension - to a family house in St Margaret’s, Twickenham - is the detailing.


The house is a two-storey brick semi built about the turn of the century in a quiet leafy street. A two-storey extension was added to the rear of the house about 20 years ago, providing a poky kitchen and shower room on the ground floor. The client wanted to turn this into a large family living room and kitchen. A conservatory was envisaged, but this proved unnecessary - the new extension has glazed sliding walls which link the garden with the living space.


The architect has created an open and uncluttered space by grouping the sink unit and an island cooking unit with a stainless-steel extractor hood into one corner of the room and concealing the rest of the kitchen equipment in full-height white-painted storage cupboards which run from floor to ceiling along the length of the party wall. They conceal the original chimney breast and contain the central heating boiler, fridge, freezer and washing machine. The edge of the cupboards are lit with a funky blue neon strip which gives a surreal glow when seen from the garden.


The new layout, an effective area of 25m2, harmonises with the clean lines of the ceiling - a seamless plane from front to back - and the floor of pale cream French limestone. The glazed sliding doors on both sides of the extension in effect give the feeling that the garden is part of the living space even when closed. When open in fine weather this feeling becomes a reality. A slatted timber floor beyond the doors makes the room continue into the garden.


The extension forms an integral part of the house. The ground-floor section of the original rear wall and part of the side wall have been removed; the upper walls now rest on a 203 x 203mm UB. On the party wall side the beam rests on a nib; on the other side it extends beyond the house and into the side garden where it is welded to a 203 x 203mm column. The new column and beam structure, in the architect’s words, ‘frees the house of columns supports, and forms a ‘gateway’ in the garden, along the path which leads from the formal dining room’.


The structure of the extension roof is formed of two lengths of 203 x 89mm channel, welded together to form a continous exposed fascia with a mitred corner. It supports the timber roof joists and the zinc roof covering. At the side wall the channel is notched into the web of the main 302 x 302mm UB and bolted. The resultant cantilever is restrained from rotation by a ‘tie-back’ beam along the side wall which also gives support to the sliding door. This structural arrangement frees the room of columns - the corner of the extension where the glazed sliding doors meet has no post or column; when they slide open the corner is effectively ‘dematerialised’.


The house is in a conservation area; although planning permission was not required for an extension of this size, the architect has obtained a Certificate of Lawful Developement from the planning authority.

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