New River House, Islington, London. 2016-2018

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The principal motive of the design was to reunite two flats to create a house with an improved relationship to the garden.

The upper flat had been the long term residence of the client and the opportunity to purchase the lower property enabled the small flat to become a family home.

The early Victorian semi-detached villa has a delicate and compact plan and formal Georgian frontage. The layout was restricted by the half landing configuration of the stair and closet wing, and the confusion of two front doors.

The scheme extended the property at lower ground floor, relocating the heart of the house next to the garden. The introduction of glazed internal partitions, a compact staircase and flush joinery, expanded the floorplate, and enhanced sightlines across the building. A large rooflight brings daylight into the deep plan, and a gently sloping ceiling gives the illusion of height. A palette of subtle tones and textures create a softness to the contemporary interior, with an air of historic Georgian decoration.

A visual hierarchy between the existing house and subterranean extensions was carefully modelled, split into two volumes: the larger holds the kitchen and dining relating to the main house, and the smaller contains a living space relating to the closet-wing. The larger volume reads as a delicate framed structure with sliding doors creating a continuous relationship with the courtyard and garden, the smaller volume reads as a stepped extension to the closet-wing, enclosed by the raised level of the garden wrapping around it.

The extension was built in pale buff brick to unify the varied brick of the rear elevation.

Photography: Agnese Sanvito