Housing in the English capital isn’t exactly known for being the cheapest (or easiest) to obtain. Often, a more viable option for gaining additional space is to increase the footprint of the home that you already have. London-based firm McLaren Excell knocked down an old conservatory and a previous extension in order to build additional functional space in the garden of a Victorian house south of the Thames.

The architect describes the new volume as ‘two chamfered forms nestling together and sitting in sharp contrast to the background of the painted-out rear façade of the original house.’ The pale masonry and lime mortar of the extension brings a welcome air of lightness to the otherwise dull, grey exterior from which it protrudes.

‘The simplicity of the exterior belies the complexity of concealed structures, interlocking pitched roofs and wedge-shaped walls,’ says the architect. ‘All are neatly resolved so as not to compromise the purity of the form.’ The scheme is as honest as its linear appearance first suggests, without a single curved surface in sight – ‘Nope,’ came the simple response from the architect when questioned on the matter.

Given the plentiful use of raw, natural materials, the presence of an amorphous form would seem entirely unnatural. Rather, a palette of earthly colours made up from oiled oak, concrete and grey Valchromat – a product that bonds dyed-timber fibres to create a coloured sheet material – covers every surface.

Unlike its exterior impression, the internal transition from the existing building into the extension is seamless, with the timber panelling adorning the perimeter wall throughout the house. Neatly detailed and smartly finished, the cladding is broken up only by two large window openings which prevent the feeling of an enclosed box, as well as framing the view of the magnolia tree in the centre of the garden.

Long Section

Plan – Level 2

Plan – Level 1

Plan – Level 0