The Client for this job is one of the nicest human beings we know! Many of our jobs when starting out in architecture come from family or friends or friend’s family.
We had already completed a loft project for her son and now our client had just moved into a new property near Wood Green in North London.
The original property is gorgeous, it and was built sometime around the turn of the 19th century, set in Wood Green, the area by the mid-1890s was joined by buildings both to Southgate and to Hornsey.
Near the Southgate boundary, around Whittington and Marlborough roads, the National Liberal Land Co. had auctioned many plots on the Bowes Park estate between 1880 and 1890. Building along part of the south side of Bounds Green Lane was prevented by the survival of Nightingale Hall until c. 1896, when it made way for a bicycle track, which was soon replaced by Braemar Avenue and neighbouring roads. Chitts Hill House also survived, although Woodside Road and parallel avenues had already been planned to cover its grounds.
Westbury Avenue separated Wood Green in the south-east from Tottenham, and Granville Road had been laid out in plots as far as the boundary. There were fields, however, between Westbury Avenue and Noel Park, which ended at Gladstone Avenue, and in the north-east along White Hart Lane. The western part of Wood Green remained open, largely because Alexandra Palace stood in 180 a. of park-land with Muswell Hill golf club, established in 1894, as its neighbour to the north.
Both Tottenham and Wood Green grew ever more populous until the First World War, total numbers reaching 136,744 by 1901 and 186,787 by 1911. Much the higher density was achieved in Tottenham, with 34 persons an acre in 1901 and over 45 persons in 1911.
Although growth had started with families leaving London, whither householders travelled to work, it was inevitable that some of the land near the marshes or the railways, cheap but undesirable for housing, should be used for factories. Firms began to move from London, the first large company being the furniture-makers Harris Lebus in 1900, and soon provided much local employment. By 1914 there were three main pockets of industry: in the extreme south around Vale Road, around Tottenham Hale, and north of Northumberland Park.
New buildings along High Road included extensive offices for the Tottenham and Edmonton Gas Light & Coke Co. in 1901, the Jewish home and hospital in 1903, Windsor Parade on the north corner of Dowsett Road in 1907, and a parade opposite Bruce Grove in 1907-8. A musichall was built on land of the Drapers’ Company in 1908 and a skating-rink next door in 1909. The factories, offices, and shops, together with the railways and their yards, gave much of Tottenham an urban rather than a suburban appearance. To keep pace with the change the U.D.C. began to acquire open spaces, beginning with Bruce Castle park in 1892, and replaced the houses on the west side of Tottenham Green with an imposing row of civic buildings.
The clients brief was to remove this dodgy rear shed/lean too that was built god knows when, it had no insulation and was very small. She loves her garden as it gets great light from the east and backs on to an allotment.
We all discussed how we could extend in different possible ways, looking at the original rear façade, it was clear that its railway cottage’esque design must be retained.
This significant part of the house was a catalyst for how we should design the rear extension because to keep the rear façade untouched meant that we must a) from an external court yard around this and b) we needed a glass corner to frame this beautiful original façade so that one can still see the façade when in the new extension.
We love using frameless glass details and to then have a frameless corner glass detail really got us excited, this language was then carried through, so in some ways, that one decision to preserve the rear façade made the next few design decisions kind of automatic, the design sometimes designs its self and you just go with the flow.
With 2x 90 degree frameless glass corners that make you feel like you in the garden when you are just in the kitchen, so throughout the winter months we think this would really lift ones spirits to have that open connection with the garden.
When we went to photograph the completed garden room, our Photographer Richard Chivers had asked what type of architectural style was the exterior façade with its large span winged concrete lintels and the brick arches, Dave had just got back from India as the planning for the project had just started. When he was in India he was lucky enough to go and see Louis Kahns Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad,
There are brick arched structures there that have a monumental feeling to them, they are timeless, one is not sure if they are ancient or from the future, now we can’t say we have achieved anywhere near this type of work in our humble garden room in North London, but they were inspired by this particular Indian vernacular project and so that was the very long winded answer to our photographer.
Architecture is the reaching out for the truth.