Arts & Crafty House

Arts & Craft Hackney home modernised by fourth_space London / United Kingdom / 2018

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Architects fourth_space have reinvented an Arts and Crafts inspired home in Hackney as a modern house for a young family across three distinctly themed floor levels.


The original house was built in the late 1920s in a style that evokes the arts and crafts sensibility. Although listed as an important heritage asset, the interior was greatly compromised and cluttered with outdated cheap 1970s period fixtures and finishes. Fourth_space’s approach was to retain and enhance the character of the property by creating more space, light and movement through the house and crafting an array of contemporary interventions, refurbished original fittings and a considered range of material textures.


Matching the external appearance of the house, a series of stealth-like extensions maximised the internal ground floor level within the constrained plot. The new front bay extension and the tapered volume of the side extension allowed for the creation of a large open plan living space in lieu of an unusable garage and an awkward unoriginal kitchen. Here the geometries of house and extension collide in a dynamic diagonal volume that is expressed by triangular roof lights, high sloping ceilings and a clerestory window. A veneer clad storage unit running the full length of the space conceals utility room, storage, bar fridge and AV equipment as a practical yet sculptural element.


Another design aim was transforming the house from being a series of dark boxed rooms into more of an open space with a strong horizontal accent and improved natural light. The existing front sitting room is opened up to a central entrance hallway area with a Crittall glazed screen and door. In turn, the hallway fireplace was knocked through to link hall, kitchen and dining areas as one connected volume. The original timber panelled room to the rear of the ground floor was modified and extended to become a secluded, more private ‘clubroom’ with its own individual patio. The rear garden became like walled garden with simple division of spaces and seating making it function more like an ‘exterior room’.


Materials were chosen in many cases to blur the legibility between old and new finishes, fixtures and fittings. Matching parquet flooring was installed to extend original areas and used as a new ‘raised floor surface’ to form a unique bench seat in the hall. Timber panelling and studded framework were retained and extended in the clubroom and entrance areas respectively. Meanwhile a concrete bench, bridging inside and outside, echoes the poured in situ concrete worktops of the kitchen, and a traditional bay window seat at the front of the house. Light fixtures were carefully chosen to respond to interior forms and material changes to present a considered and crafted sequence of spaces.


The extensive alterations could be carried out with very little obvious change to the front of the property whereby the overall design oscillated between moments of concealment and revelation. Whilst some aspects such as the original under-stair WC with its period tiling, were retained intact as one of the heritage pieces in the house, a new steel column and other elements of industrial aesthetic were deliberately left to playfully contrast with the arts and crafts sensibility and to signify an honesty to the new alterations and additions.


The first floor of the house was wholly remodelled to allow for improved bedrooms and bathrooms. Original panelled doors and brass handles were refurbished and reinstalled. New dressing room joinery was installed within a large master bedroom suite leading to a walk-in shower en-suite bathroom with semi-industrial fittings. Smaller bedrooms were made to feel larger by removing sections of ceiling to maximise the space and character within the lower eaves of the house.


In direct contrast to the period styling of the two floors below, the top of the house became a dynamic new modern loft. Previously a dark storage attic it was wholly revamped taking full potential of all available eaves space and natural light. The vertical lines of painted tulip wood lining amplify the height of the loft making a light, airy and contemporary volume whilst paying homage to the craft skills of the joiners used on the project. An office by day and TV den at night, this room was made more intimate a space by the warm glow of brass clad light slots recessed into the tulip cladding.


The most unusual design intervention in the house is the modern raw welded steel staircase that dramatically combines with the original stair at first floor level to the loft. With its industrial aesthetic tempered by being partly painted in with the decor of the surrounding walls, the stair both mimics the solid panelled balustrade of the original staircase below, whilst its open treads allow light to filter through to the floors below.


Fourth_space worked closely with a heritage consultant and successfully demonstrated how their ambitious design was sensitive to the character of the property and the historic streetscape.


Steve Sinclair, Director of fourth_space commented “The success of the Arts & Crafty House comes our relationship with the client and a shared enjoyment of it’s original character and how it could be enhanced. We worked hard to choose quality, crafted elements that would be illustrative of the past 100 years of design: period styles from the 1930s fill the expanded ground floor, a mid-century re-working of the first floor all the way up to a bright, airy and contemporary feel in the new loft.”

The client said of the property "The design of the house has genuinely changed how we live our lives. The lateral layout brings us together more as a family but allows for separate spaces for different activities and occasions. fourth_space were great to work with on revamping the interiors and working with the heritage of the home, and ran with our ideas that we never thought would become reality.

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    Architects fourth_space have reinvented an Arts and Crafts inspired home in Hackney as a modern house for a young family across three distinctly themed floor levels. The original house was built in the late 1920s in a style that evokes the arts and crafts sensibility. Although listed as an important heritage asset, the interior was greatly compromised and cluttered with outdated cheap 1970s period fixtures and finishes. Fourth_space’s approach was to retain and enhance the character of...

    Project details
    • Year 2018
    • Work started in 2015
    • Work finished in 2018
    • Main structure Masonry
    • Client fourth_space
    • Contractor Stem & Agate
    • Cost 500k
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Single-family residence
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