“The Japanese House Reinvented” by Philip Jodidio is the latest addition to our library of design books. It was the only book about self build homes on small urban plots that enticed me at the end of my visit to “The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945” exhibition at the Barbican. A must-see exhibition if self build homes or housing in general is of interest. On my initial flick through, I thought the book had struck a good balance between beautiful architectural photography, plans and sections as well as text to explain the features a camera cannot reach. Too many architecture & design books include stunning photography but lack drawings or text to explain what is really going on beyond the one or two shots. All the houses included in the book have been designed by renowned Japanese architects and there is a theme of experimentation and inventiveness, especially in the projects built either in Tokyo or other dense urban cities in Japan. I wondered whether there were lessons to learn from how Japanese architects and their clients have optimised self build homes on small urban plots often acquired at a premium.
A glass box extension is the ideal design solution for creating a space that connects with the exterior whilst providing the thermal comfort of an interior. A client approached us to design a glass box extension for a side return that is surrounded on three sides by brick walls. A small kitchen diner currently opens into the area through French doors and the side return serves merely as thoroughfare to the garden. The size of the space and the nature of its surroundings was suited to a glass box extension, but the budgetary constraints meant that other options needed to be explored. Here are some of the points that have come up during our design explorations with the client. Read more
Renovating a home in 2017 is no longer limited to improving the spatial flow, the installation of double glazing nor the fitting of on trend finishes, technology is opening up a realm of possibilities for what a delightful yet energy efficient home could be. Combining both hardware and software, I will share with you some of the methods that we have used to make recent projects more efficient in their energy consumption.
The traditional terraced house makes up a large proportion of the projects that we undertake and the two up, two down house is perhaps the one where the most impact can be made. The reason why I say this is because the two-up, two-down house usually starts with a whole host of issues that include cramped living spaces as a consequence of the narrow plan, lack of natural light at the centre of the house as a consequence of the deep plan and an awkward spatial layout on the ground floor. In addition to the well-trodden renovation paths for this house typology, which typically include loft extensions and side return extensions, there lies the opportunity within the original boundary to remodel, optimise and create adaptability. The first project that we undertook, Earlswood Street was a two-up, two-down terrace in East Greenwich. I will share the ideas that we had then for modernising the house, along with other ideas that you could explore for your project.
The start of a home renovation project, regardless of the scale, starts with a well defined brief that concisely describes the needs of the client including the aspirations for the project. Defining the needs usually tends to be the easy part as it’s typically the main driver for a home renovation, whether it’s the need to modernise a home that has not been touched for some time or to maximise the potential of a property by extending into an underused space. Defining aspirations for a project can be a little trickier, and whilst an architect will be able to help as the project develops through the different design stages before the build, having your outline vision alongside a design brief at the beginning will help create a collaborative approach working with your architect.