The sustainable re-birth of a 3-bedroom Victorian London terrace for a young family, completed in 2020, just in time for the UK lockdown. Whittaker Parsons has created a beautiful, functional space that the clients love, offering them sanctuary in the middle of the Medway Conservation Area in East London.

Project Name: The Naked House
Studio Name:  Whittaker Parsons
Project size: 150 m2
Project Budget: $295000
Completion date: 2020
Building levels: 3
Location: London, United Kingdom
Photography: Jim Stephenson

Strahan Road by Whittakar Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson : Sheet 7
Exterior View ©Jim Stephenson

The property was extended, thermally upgraded and remodelled using innovative, sustainable materials, creating a sense of physical, mental and social well-being. The side return extension blurs the threshold between interior and exterior space and the new mansard roof extension provides a bamboo and cork-lined bedroom boasting views across the docklands.

Our clients first approached us in 2018 to review a couple of properties that they were considering moving to – further out of London with more space and privacy. They loved the area they lived in (Mile End, East London) but could not see how their existing home would accommodate their needs. This conversation was a spark that inspired and guided our design to remodel their existing house. As a result, the project grew from the inside out.

The existing property was in poor condition, dark, poorly connected to its outdoor space, the city and overlooked by the neighbouring property. The client’s budget of £295,000 was relatively modest for the project they wished to achieve; a complete renovation including a master suite and family kitchen. We limited the amount of new building proposed and looked at the creative specification and honest expression of internal finishes, which were not only cost-effective but also healthy and sustainable, ones that would improve the family’s well-being.

Strahan Road by Whittakar Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson : Sheet 2
Bedroom  ©Jim Stephenson

Downstairs a single storey side extension creates a full-width kitchen and dining room, constructed from exposed reclaimed London stock and white glazed brickwork, wood fibre insulation (made from recycled wood chips from sustainable sources), exposed steelwork, and concrete screed. Bespoke joinery, formed from super sustainable Moso Bamboo panels line the space. A resin-free Neolith board, which is 100% recyclable forms the worktop and tops the kitchen island. Bespoke taps were formed from copper pipes creating unique feature and adding a further sense of warmth to the material palette.

Subtle internal alterations bring more natural light into the property, making the newly refurbished spaces feel more spacious and better connected. The original property was very dark and cramped, so we improved the connection to the rear courtyard garden, blurring the line between inside and outdoor space. Natural light floods into the kitchen through the glazed roof of the side extension and the bi-folding corner doors.

The existing reception rooms and bedrooms have been fully renovated, retaining their period features and the basement upgraded to dry storage space. Jute insulation, manufactured from discarded cocoa and coffee bean bags and processed with 100% renewable solar energy was used to thermally upgrade the existing property. Existing floorboards were retained and reused where possible.

Strahan Road by Whittakar Parsons. Copyright Jim Stephenson : Sheet 1
Kitchen ©Jim Stephenson

The new volumes have been carefully balanced to contrast with the original rooms in the house, to feel generous, light and encourage natural ventilation. The new timber staircase and internal glazing create a feeling of openness and result in unexpected views through the property while maintaining acoustic privacy.

The double-pitch mansard roof extension creates a light-filled double bedroom lined with bespoke built-in Moso bamboo joinery, such as a dressing table with views towards the London Docklands. A warm cork floor runs into a generous en-suite shower room, which again has bespoke copper fittings, including a rotating copper mirror above the basin, which can swing out of place, to enable the user to admire the London skyline as they brush their teeth.

The project has been selected for Open House this year and was long-listed and featured on Don’t Move Improve 2021.


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