Nimtim Architects has completed “a simple but effective stepped rear extension for our sociable, book-loving clients, in a shared vision to create something unpretentious but materially and spatially rich”. A limited budget informed the design of both the structure and materials, with extensive use of brick, which aimed to create a light-filled, unique addition that would have a transformative effect on everyday family life.
The addition, to an Edwardian terrace house in south London, is stepped in plan at the rear in response to existing extensions on either side, and to reduce its impact on neighbors. The project creates a new family space by combiningthe existing rear living room and kitchen with the new additional space to provide kitchen, dining and living areas, each subtly defined within the larger space. A timber structure of exposed structural plywood was used to reduce steelwork costs and provide a construction system that could act as both structure and exposed internal storage. The lightweight timber grid was then draped in a skin of red brick to provide external cladding and robustness where required.
The bricks are constructed using a stack bond with a light, recessed mortar accentuating the geometry of the materials and referencing the structural timber grid internally. The front elevation of the existing house had some facing bricks at ground-floor level which the architect was keen to reiterate in the new addition at the rear. “The chosen red facing bricks were a good match with a consistent tone and colour, and they provided a richness and warmth that contrasted nicely with the more austere tones of the plywood and concrete floor”, says the architect.
“We specified a stack bond to reference the internal grid of plywood structure. This bond also emphasised the quite small areas of brickwork on the rear elevation. We wrapped the bricks down onto the patio floor giving the whole composition a more graphic feel. We chose a light, natural lime mortar with a flush joint to emphasise the stack bond. We couldn’t wait for specials to be made so our fantastic contractor mitred the corner bricks on site so we could have consistency at the corners”.
The objective for the project was to allow each element of the house “to be what it wanted to be”, so doors and windows are a simple dark grey aluminium frame, the fascias above are patinated lead over external plywood, and the floor and worktops are a cast concrete. Kitchen fronts and storage are formed in structural ply tomatch the exposed structure. The result is a light-filled family living space that is both of-its-time but comfortable sitting alongside the main house, of which the client says: “We love it so much - it’s like Nimtim took what was in our brains and interpreted it perfectly - with some added extras we wouldn’t have thought of!”