Brighton-based FAB Architects have renovated and extended a terraced house in Croydon, using a range of playful forms and timber finishes both inside and out. Green House is the culmination of a client-focused design process that was partly inspired by a love of trains expressed by the client’s son.
Project Name: Green House
Firm Name: FAB Architects
Project size: 40 m2
Project Budget: £120000
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 1
Location: Croydon, United Kingdom
Photography: Gareth Gardner
Developed through digital models and using VR, the design draws upon simplified locomotive and traditional English train station tropes and motifs to create a playful space, utilising a tall, twin pitched roof to maximise a sense of volume and light. Keen to create a bright, warm space, FAB pursued a rich timber material palette with tongue-and-groove larch cladding externally, reflected on the interior through the use of plywood batons and CNC cut plywood bench seating.
From the outside this house gives little away of the alterations that have taken place internally. However upon walking through the front door you are immediately given glimpses of the bright open living space beyond. Past a plywood re-clad staircase and through a hidden sliding door you are greeted by a series of arches, drawing the eye through a porthole window to the garden, and garden studio beyond.
Entering the living space, to the left the Architects have created a large, open, L-shaped kitchen with a generous island for food preparation and informal dining, illuminated by polished concrete hanging pendants. Thin profile, bright white quartz worktops with sporadic dark grey veins sit atop deep blue timber cabinet doors. Each door is adorned with a single flat round oak handle, hand turned from oak by a small Brighton based joiners and individually hand-painted.
Elongated flat matt ceramic tiles contrast against the deep blue cabinet doors and stainless appliances creating a splash-back in a herringbone pattern, mirroring the pattern of the engineered timber flooring that unifies the living area to the rear of the house.
Tucked beneath the staircase the Architects have fitted a small washroom and utility space concealed within a curved grey cupboard with plywood timber batons. The washroom makes use of clean white ceramic tiles and contrasts with the deep grey walls and ceiling. Injecting warmth and a natural element to the otherwise functional and clean space, the cloakroom houses a bespoke vanity unit made from bamboo panels and uses beautiful, handcrafted oak door furniture.
Open, but not open-plan, the arched internal openings work with the building structure to divide the living space into four zones; dining, sitting, kitchen and utility, whilst maintaining a sense of social connection and light. This brings a degree of order to the client’s high-pace family life.
The extension space itself, accessed through the right-hand archway, is a tall, twin-pitched space extending to nearly 3.8m at the apex. To the left, the Architect has installed CNC cut plywood seating with pink velvet upholstery. A semi-circular void in the wall provides connection with the kitchen, while a skylight floods the space with light. To the right, an arched bay extrudes from the outermost wall, punching into the garden and creating a cosy timber nook complete with circular porthole window. Walls are clad with plywood timber strips, whilst the ceiling and end walls are left white with plaster wall lights sending light up into the tall roof space after the sun sets.
The roof is planted with wildflower sedum, punctuated by industrial dome skylights that provide glimpses of the flowers during the spring and summer, and allowing light to penetrate the space throughout the year. Through the sliding doors to the rear façade, the extension and garden studio create an intimate and secluded courtyard garden, perfect for young children, and encased by the warm palette of the slatted larch cladding. The garden studio itself mirrors the playful language of the extension, with matching arched bay and planted roof.
Accessed through a side patio door, the studio houses a generous office space, with a central circular roof light, and circular house-facing bay window. Concealed within the façade is a door to a shed for the storage of gardening equipment and children’s toys. By day the extension and studio are bright and spacious, with rays of lights illuminating the spaces and timber finishes. By night, the garden is lit indirectly through the glazing of the extension and a pair of black and copper tubular wall lights. The project creates a series of connected, yet individual spaces that take on different characteristics at different times of day.