Masterfully reconfiguring and extending a studio flat at the rear of a converted Edwardian house in North London, this project by Christian Brailey Architects is a unique celebration of the characteristics and craftsmanship of timber.
From the outset, the extension was viewed as a single piece of cabinetry crafted from a single material – Canadian Douglas fir. Chosen for its tightly grained straightness, strength and stability, these qualities enabled an elegant and efficient use of slim profiled timber, internally and externally.
The highest levels of carpentry were achieved with the extension being entirely prefabricated and erected in workshop conditions by a team of skilled carpenters in Devon. The extension’s timber structure, along with all the timber doors and windows, was then disassembled, transported, craned-in and erected on site within a matter of days.
Large windows, mechanical ventilation with heat recovery and underfloor heating have been added to the existing studio, which is located in the Muswell Hill Conservation Area. Rather than a fullwidth rear extension, the design takes an identical massing but locates it along one side of the garden and sinks down, thus reducing its impact on the host building and neighbours.
The overall studio footprint has been increased by 50%, providing a new bedroom and the ability to create a further bedroom for family growth. Placed at the end of the extension, the new bedroom sits immersed within the garden, with a large picture window and bench seat furthering the connection. The timber ceiling with exposed beams creates a restful sleeping area, and Douglas fir plywood wardrobes act as a division between the bedroom and dining room.
Ingenious solutions have been found throughout to maximise space and storage. Impressive ceiling heights are achieved in the open plan living space, where smooth cool concrete and raw plaster complement the warm swirled tones of the exposed timber. The doors and windows are traditionally oiled to keep their natural colour and offer a contrast to the silvered external cladding.
Conceived as an extension to the garden rather than the house, the timber extension nestles into the landscape of the private garden and woodland park of Alexandra Palace beyond.