Butterfly House


“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.”

― Rabindranath Tagore

A rear extension and house refurbishment to a Victorian townhouse in Islington, the rear extension mimics the butterfly roof of the rear of the terrace.

Set within a terrace of houses in Holloway, North London, Butterfly House takes a sensitive approach to a rear extension. Taking inspiration from the historic 19th Century butterfly rooves that are found in the area, the scheme has a symmetrical inverted roof form that replicates the “butterfly” shaped roof found on townhouses on the street.

Large angled skylights above the new living space create a floating like ceiling space over the main dining area almost like a wing in flight above ones head.

For this project we have developed a custom shaped special angled brick that mimics the angles found of the roof forms of the street, these brick patterns are repeated and mirrored over the facade in a stack formation to give order to the facade. We added depth to the facade to allow it to become dynamic, with concealed cupboards clad in brick slip that house garden tools and storage. Dynamic facades are something we as a practice are keen to explore and will be developing in our ongoing projects.

The project has now been completed, and here is a note from the Client:

Having now finished the build, we are delighted with the result.  We love the new configuration, and it has changed the way we occupy and use the space. Helen and I tend to spend more time in the new living space and the boys can be in the sitting room playing FIFA and Fortnite with their friends (with the sitting room door closed when they get too noisy!). The door to the new space is held open with a magnet (which automatically closes if a fire is detected) so we still get a sense of flowing – when you arrive home and open the front door, you can see all the way through into the garden (which wasn’t the case before).  The kitchen and dining area is full of light and has a space for relaxing too. The unusual shape of the roof to the extension and the associated roof lights definitely give a wow factor. They also give an impressive sense of height. The layout and location of the rooflights provide maximum light without us feeling too overlooked.  We love the interesting shadows and lines that are created, and we enjoy new views of treetops. We enjoy the interesting bricks, which we feel enhance the individuality of the project set the extension apart from many other.  They also make it visually appealing from the outside, which is important given we intend to spend lots of time in the garden. We removed the brick shed to enable us to use the sunniest spot for outdoor eating and the architects’ clever design includes ‘hidden’ cupboards to house all the bits and bobs needed in the garden. We got rid of the grass, given it struggled anyway, which enabled us to get rid of the bulky mower and we  opted for pebbles to avoid adding to London’s problems with rainwater run-off and to help smaller wildlife.  We chose larger sized ones to prevent the local cats and foxes using the garden as a gigantic litter tray and selected ones that have a very different colouring when wet, to keep it interesting.  The distinct brickwork on the rear façade has been extended into the garden to give cohesion and works well with the existing London Stock.