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Pigmented patterned concrete defines the shape of space in this two-storey extension on the back of a Victorian House. Designed by Studio Ben Allen, the practice took location into consideration, looking outside of the conventional ‘glass’ box to bring a sense of warmth and enclosure to this North London home.

By taking the humble concrete, a material revered and admonished in equal measure and pushing its corporeal boundaries, the studio has in the process had some serious fun. Given full creative licence by their clients, the project became a testbed for ideas, leading to an exploration into off-site fabrication – something that they felt was lacking in smaller-scale residential or alteration projects.

Inspired by Sir John Soane’s imaginative Lincoln Inn’s Fields home from the clean lines, and careful proportions to skilful use of light sources the eponymously named practice have transformed this piecemeal rear facade into a post-minimalist pied with the pigmented patterned concrete acting as both structure and architectural finish.

 

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Emboldened by the existing Victorian brickwork that is decorated but also load-bearing the architects embraced this ‘what you see is what you get’ aesthetic to develop their own grammar of ornament throughout. Celadon green columns and beams create a framework for the salmon colour structural wall panels of the first-floor bathroom. Internally the brazen shades of pigment continue with salmon counters, sink, floors and benches and an electric blue balustrade. You name it, it’s probably pigmented in concrete!

Beyond the parade of polychroma, the architects looked at bringing diffused light down into both the kitchen and bathroom with louvred vaulted ceilings. A double-height space connects the new ground floor spaces with the freshly made mezzanine on the first floor, which in turn is connected to the main stair. This void allows light to penetrate deep into the house while also creating visual and aural connections throughout. Additional openings bridge the divide between the old and new builds, orchestrated around this central void.

 

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With a focus on beauty, easily the most luxurious new room would have to be the upstairs bathroom. Designed to feel like a hammam its bottom half is drenched in the signature celadon green concrete panels with a custom bath and sink while the white arches of the louvred vaulted ceiling feel divine in the purest sense of the word. Bespoke brass spouts and fixtures only add to the special spa at home feeling.

The pattern on the main facade is mirrored in the balustrade which was CNC cut by the architect and delivered as an easy to assemble kit of parts. With offsite fabrication being the favoured mode of production it greatly reduced time on site with the mainframe and walls of the extension being erected in just three days.

Looking at the lighter side of concrete, Studio Ben Allen has approached this renovation with respect and ingenuity. This project provides a fresh perspective for the owners and some food for thought for the rest of us.

This definitely isn’t your average reno.

 

 

 


[Images courtesy of Studio Ben Allen. Photography by French + Tye.]

 

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