We do Extensions

I was at a party once and bumped into an old colleague of mine, we had met when we worked for a larger architect practise called Patel Taylor, most young architects work for larger practices so that they can qualify as an Architect, she mentioned to me that she would love to start her own practise, but she would love to skip the ‘’extension’’ bit.

What she meant by this is that most young architects in London normally go through a period of designing and constructing small additions / extensions to properties, a rear extension or a side return for example, but they come in many form, lofts, basements, garden rooms, you name it, someone has built it,

They can be associate with very low budgets for the build, or the architect is sometimes not paid at all because it’s a family member or close friend.

All construction projects can be stressful, but I guess because this normally is a close relative then its more pressure on the project, perhaps?

So, I can relate to her thoughts on skipping this part of the career process.

But I would like to argue why its important as a young architect to do any project that comes your way, paid or not. If you dads’ friends’ nans cousin needs a kennel for their dog or someone needs a cat ladder then jump at it! Design it! Take this opportunity with both arms, its your project!

London as a fascinating test bed for your British architecture. We so lucky to have an abundance of period properties that were designed in most part by the Victorians, Victorian properties are often considered well designed for extensions due to several architectural characteristics that lend themselves to expansion and modification. Here are some reasons why Victorian properties are often suitable for extending:

  1. Generous Plot Sizes: Victorian-era houses were typically built on larger plots of land compared to more modern properties. This provides ample space for extending the building without significantly impacting the overall proportion of the house or the surrounding garden.
  2. Solid Construction: Victorian houses were built with solid construction materials such as brick and stone, which make it easier to extend and modify the existing structure. The sturdy foundation and load-bearing walls provide a strong base for extensions.
  3. High Ceilings and Large Rooms: Victorian properties often feature high ceilings and spacious rooms, which allow for vertical expansion or reconfiguration of internal spaces. This flexibility makes it easier to add extra floors or convert existing rooms for different purposes.
  4. Ornate Architectural Details: Victorian houses are known for their intricate architectural details, such as decorative mouldings, cornices, and bay windows. These features can be preserved or incorporated into extensions, maintaining the aesthetic continuity between the original building and the new addition.
  5. Flexible Layouts: Victorian houses typically have a more compartmentalized layout with separate rooms, which can be reconfigured and adapted to suit modern living requirements. Walls can be removed or rearranged to create open-plan spaces or accommodate additional rooms.
  6. Large Windows and Natural Light: Victorian properties often feature large windows that allow plenty of natural light into the interior. When extending, careful consideration can be given to maintaining or enhancing natural light sources, ensuring a well-lit and pleasant living environment.
  7. Architectural Heritage and Conservation: Many Victorian properties are protected by heritage regulations, which encourage sympathetic extensions that preserve the original character of the building. This can lead to careful and thoughtful design solutions that respect the architectural heritage while meeting contemporary needs.

I feel personally very grateful for all the family members and friends that let us work on their properties, We are so lucky to have this flexible typology in abundance to dissect, If you look at Paris for example, most of the inner city urban blocks are large apartment blocks with very little chance of extending, yes you can do an extensive refurbishment and I do love those cutting edge Paris classic refurbs, but there is not much to them in terms of construction works. With London extensions, ok its one small room to build but in that small room you have foundations, external cavity walls, roofs, drainage, insulation build ups, etc.. you get the point.

 

One summer posters went up in Paris telling the Parisians that we do extensions! We do!