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Project:

Wood Box

Location:

London

Client:

Private

Status:

Complete

 

The Extension
Measuring only four-and-a-half metres across and three metres deep, this small new space does much to enhance the Victorian mid-terraced house. A large fixed skylight, paired with full-height glazed French doors, fills the wooden box extension with natural light and lends much to its Victorian host.

The thick envelope of wood-fibre insulation and the sedum roof above help to keep the building cool in the summer and warm in the winter. A thin birch plywood lining, oiled with Osmo , makes for a bright, peaceful space. High-level copper hanging rails and shelving accommodate a dense array of houseplants, which improve the internal air quality and add colour and vitality to the space. A bespoke extendable table and folding chairs were designed to compliment the space and allow greater flexibility.

The timber framed box is clad in offcuts from UK-sourced Western Red Cedar, which have been treated with a natural fire retardant and detailed carefully with UK-sourced Code 5 lead. The rainwater pipes are concealed within the cladding void and discharge into raised planters which surround the garden, naturally irrigating the plants.

 

The Retrofit
Having spent 40-50 years without any interventions, the building was stripped and gutted, removing many of the ‘70s ‘upgrades’. These included many internal walls, mantelpieces, wallpaper linings, colourful carpets and an MDF kitchenette. The house has since gone through a handful of ‘light-touch’ modifications, enhancing the internal circulation and promoting natural light, all the while maintaining and restoring original Victorian features where possible.

The floors have been both thermally and acoustically insulated using a combination of a recycled rubber matting and natural wood fibre insulation from Back to Earth. Window reveals have also been insulated and replaced and the loft floor has been filled with wood-fibre insulation.

The existing heating system has been revamped with new custom-made copper radiators in the main spaces and a neat shower room has been incorporated into the original external privy. Recycled offcuts of colourful concrete tiles were repurposed for tiling the kitchen, bathroom and shower room.

 

The Build
This has been completed on a very tight budget using plenty of self-build ‘sweat equity’. Reducing waste was a key principle; all of the 120-year old Baltic Pine floorboards have been retained and painstakingly restored. All sound structural timber was retained and repurposed to create new partition walls, while bricks were reclaimed for use as stub foundations for the new timber floors. All white goods and sanitaryware have either been salvaged from the existing building or purchased second hand.

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