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Recycled House, London NW5

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Recycled House was shortlisted for the 2011 R.I.B.A. Awards.

This Victorian end-of-terrace house in North London had suffered from substantial subsidence in the past and was in poor structural condition when purchased. Despite these defects, our Client had fallen in love with its charm and did not want to lose the original 19th century features; the original brief was to refurbish the original house, extend it honestly in a modern idiom, and make it ready for starting a family.

An exhaustive value-analysis revealed that the most appropriate approach in terms of cost, quality and sustainability was to entirely dismantle the house and reconstruct it out of the salvaged elements. These included architraves, doors, ceiling roses, joists, floor boards, bricks and the whole staircase. Joinery was removed to a workshop, renovated and then reinstated.

The finished building is a modern two storey re-build and expansion which for planning reasons follows the outline of the demolished original at the rear upper storeys, side and street front. On the rear 'extension', recycled brick side walls grip modern open-plan living space, wrapped up and over by artificial-slate walls and roofs. These extrusions bear the new faces to the garden - fully glazed at both levels. Sliding doors to the garden are strategically inflected at an angle in plan, focusing the view towards the church spire in the urban gap at the end of the surrounding gardens. Skylights in all the roofs economically target light deep into the house.

“Food is the centre of my world”, our client said during one of the first meetings - no doubt then that the kitchen had to occupy the heart of the home. A 4-step level-change from entrance to rear garden creates a dynamic relationship between arrival, reception and food space; in doing so, demarcating the threshold between reconstructed traditional house and modern rear extension.

Despite the complex process incorporating careful demolition, salvage and re-instatement, our Client was able to move back in after less than a year of construction, and has subsequently retained RDA to work on the re-landscaping of the front and rear gardens.

Featured in:
Grand Designs Magazine, November 2011
BBC's 'Britain's Empty Homes
Watch the episode here

Contractor: ShipShape Construction Ltd.
Structural Engineer: Greig Ling
Services: WR Associates
Quantity Surveying: Nigel Ray Associates
Photography: Images 1, 4, 7, 10 © JCT Photography; Images 2, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9 © ShipShape Construction Ltd.
Furniture Supplied by: Coexistence