Friday 10 Sep 2010


Collaboration between Jonathan Woolf architects and Bharat Patel resulted in two typical 1940’s semis in a north London suburb being restructured to create a 7,500 sqft house for an extended family of eleven people. The practice of combining dwellings in this fashion is commonplace in some communities in the UK, although largely on an ad hoc basis and seldom from an architectural standpoint. This house is shared by two brothers, their young families, and their grandparents. Almost all of the interior surfaces, walls, ceiling, floors and joinery are either painted or laminated to match paint. This lends the conventional shaped volumes an abstract character. The exterior of the old building has been over-clad with insulation, the rear and side finished with a layer of render, and the façade is faced with brick slips, presenting a clearly defined face towards the street, a look which is emphasised by the original window openings, which are retained to maintain the ordinary everyday feel of the traditional suburban semi. Along the sides and to the rear of the building, however, the openings become more expansive. The new building works within the footprint of the existing properties, both of which had been extended previously on one level at the rear and sides of the plot. The new project extrudes these up to two floors together with an inhabited loft within a new roof shell. A steel frame has been inserted at ground level to achieve generous proportioned social spaces on the ground floor, which are of a scale in keeping with the size of this extended family unit, and include recreation and study spaces for the children, a large kitchen, eating and living area with large sliding windows opening onto the rear garden. The ground floor also houses accommodation for the grandparents in a position that reflects their place at the heart of the family unit.

Jonathan Woolf architects