Abigail Hopkins and Amir Sanei's addition to their north London Victorian terraced house forms part of a project to remodel the entire property, in which they have cleverly turned the constraining verticality of the typical terraced house on its side, and pulled in sunlight and fresh air in the process.
The extension occupies the entire rear garden, a strategy the architects describe as 'urbanising' and 'inhAbigailting' the site.
Spatially this approach seems effortless, drawing out the lower floor of the house into a sequence of cooking, dining and family spaces that focus on an open courtyard.
The container for the new extension was defined by building new boundary walls on three sides of the garden and cutting away the back wall of the house at the lower level.
The new accommodation projects out from the house to form an L-shaped enclosure - the longer wing of the 'L' contains a galley kitchen, the shorter, deeper side has a playroom for the children.
The enclosed space wraps around the courtyard and is defined by a continuous band of full-height sliding glazing. These windows can be fully opened to create a single sweep of space from one end of the house to the other, which discourages conventional distinctions between indoor and outdoor.
The palette of materials is restrained and monochrome. It has white fair-faced concrete block walls, stack bonded with white mortar, white rubber floors internally and white acid-etched concrete paving slabs externally, and mirrored worktops and roof.
The mirrored roof - surely a first - has a delightfully ambiguous quality, hovering at the boundary between architecture and art.
In sunlight, it lies flat and blue, suggesting the glistening surface of a California pool; at night, or under an overcast sky, it is more mercurial, evoking the unfathomable depths of another memorable London piece - Richard Wilson's oil installation at the Saatchi Gallery.
While architecturally the extension continues the spare formal aesthetic of the Los Angeles Case Study houses, it teases their matter-of-fact detailing in subtle, playful new directions that would surely have amazed and delighted Charles Eames.
CREDITS ARCHITECT Sanei Hopkins Studio:
Abigail Hopkins, Amir Sanei STRUCTURAL ENGINEER Arup: Patrick Bravery, Andrew Lacey PARTY WALL SURVEYOR Martin O'Shea & Partners PLANNING OFFICER IN CHARGE Islington Planning Department:
Helen Dilks GENERAL CONTRACTOR Task Specialist Contractors (phase II) Vandec Construction (phase I) NOMINATED SUBCONTRACTORS steelwork Patera Engineering; patio doors Rolltech; roof mirrors Interior Fitout; flooring Tyndale Carpets; kitchen joinery Task NOMINATED SUPPLIERS brick/blockwork James & Taylor; roof waterproof membrane RIW;
concrete paving slabs Townscape; rubber floors Dalsouple