‘An early sketch of this project was captioned ‘business up front, party out the back’ explains Peter Knights of architects – ‘we feel this accurately sums up the energy of our client, and our playful approach.’
In fact, it’s not just playfulness that describes Taylor Knights’ design process here, but also, a distinct lack of ego. This modest, though transformative renovation is testament to the architects’ thoughtful, pragmatic approach.
After 10 years of living in the original house, and learning all the things they loved (as well as those they were happy to leave behind), the owners approached Taylor Knight architects in 2015.
The brief was straightforward enough – the client was keen to reconfigure the back section of the original house, which, like so many homes of this era, was a rabbit-warren of compartmentalised rooms, with very little connection to the garden beyond.
Creating a bigger, brighter home that would also accommodate the clients’ extensive collection of artwork and books was also an essential part of the brief – a family favourite being a treasured print of Kandinsky’s ‘Upward’ (Empor) (1929). In fact, this print became a key inspiration for the architects’ design response, guiding the interior colour and materials palette.
Architects James Taylor and Peter Knights opted for robust materials that would stand up to the rigours of family life – white brick walls and timber panelling were paired with and a unique green-tinted concrete floor, flecked with local bluestone.
Structurally, the design team were keen to keep things simple. ‘From the beginning, the project was always about achieving quality over quantity’ Peter concludes. For this reason, the architects sought to avoid as many major structural changes as possible, designing a compact new living pavilion to extend the existing home, and gently re-orientating the home by creating a new entry point at the side of the house, linking old and new.
Retaining much of the home’s existing structure also contains the scale here, and lends a special charm to the place. The architects are particularly fond of the low ceilings – not usually a sought after feature (!), but in this instance so effective at creating a cosy and intimate space, and framing beautiful views of the garden.
Taylor Knights would like to acknowledge and thank their builder, Gareth Cannon of GC+F Construction, who did a fantastic job!