Architect: 51 Architecture

Queensbridge Road
London E8

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Located within a short walk of London Fields and Broadway Market, this Grade II-listed semi-detached house combines the charm of the early-Victorian era with the open spaces and natural light of modern living. It has been extended with great skill by 51 Architecture, who have added a timber-clad tower over three storeys. The project was carried out for a Norwegian artist and received a prestigious RIBA Award in 2008.

The house is set back behind a front garden with off-street parking for two cars. Internally it offers a flexible layout, with approximately 1,782 sq ft of accommodation. It is entered on the raised ground floor, where there is a typically Victorian arrangement of a double sitting room with doors in the middle. In the extension to the rear is a wonderfully warm and cossetting study / bedroom, which is lined in plywood. A ‘panorama’ window at desk height provides views of the garden, and, looking back the other way, a vertical glass slot frames the view of the plane tree – one of the original avenue planted by the Georgians.

At the front of the house on the lower ground floor is a bedroom with kitchenette, which would work equally well as a playroom or TV room. It has use of a shower room across the hallway. To the rear is a hugely uplifting kitchen and dining room, which is extensively glazed and opens up seamlessly to the garden. The larch cladding of the extension continues internally to form the ceiling for the kitchen, where the units have been treated like pieces of furniture that help to define the space. The garden is very well proportioned, with an outside seating area and a step up to a lawn with borders and a mature chestnut tree.

On the first floor of the ‘tower’ extension is a spectacular master bathroom, which doubles as a yoga room and has a hammock for evening stargazing. There is a clawfoot bath and a large separate shower. There are two double bedrooms on this floor, as well as a single room that the current owner uses as a dressing room.

The house has a large loft space, which offers potential scope for conversion, subject to planning permission. There is underfloor heating in the kitchen and the bathrooms.

The house is located within a short walk of London Fields and Broadway Market, with its weekly organic farmers’ market, gastro pubs, restaurants and shops. Nearby Victoria Park Village is home to the Ginger Pig butcher and a variety of excellent convenience stores, pubs and restaurants. Haggerston station (East London Line) and London Fields BR station provide convenient access to the City, West End and Canary Wharf. Dalston Junction has been proposed as a station on the Crossrail 2 route. Queensbridge Primary School is rated ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted.

Please note that all areas, measurements and distances given in these particulars are approximate and rounded. The text, photographs and floor plans are for general guidance only. The Modern House has not tested any services, appliances or specific fittings — prospective purchasers are advised to inspect the property themselves. All fixtures, fittings and furniture not specifically itemised within these particulars are deemed removable by the vendor.


History

The Norwegian-born artist Anne Katrine Dolven commissioned the architects 51% Studios (now 51 Architecture) to carry out an extension to the existing Victorian Villa, which was built in 1860. The architects refer to the project as “a lightweight timber tower on an asymmetric steel stiletto”.

An article in Grand Designs describes it as follows:

“The plan was for a solid wood tower at the back, which would stick out 56cm from the side of the house, with a slot window filling in this gap from top to bottom so that every room had a view of the London plane tree at the front. The tower would house the new kitchen, a study and a spacious, glass-roofed bathroom.

“Having a space to cook and entertain in was always central to the project… the new area extends from the back room of the original house, and then tucks off to the side, making an L-shape at the end. The cooking area was originally planned for the tucked-away corner, but Anne Katrine decided to put it in a more central location along the main wall, between the garden outside and her fantastic hand-made dining table – which acts as a bridge between the old and new spaces, stretching 3.5 metres in length across both.

“Not that all the socialising happens there. Upstairs the bathroom is more than just a room in which to groom. A small-scale bench in the shower room means you can sit while you shower, and on a clear night you can watch the moon traverse the sky through the glazed roof, from the comfort of a hammock.

“New-builds always run the risk of being sterile, but this house is the opposite. It’s a place for late-night stargazing and leisurely late-afternoon lunches, with generous amounts of natural light and windows strategically placed to frame the natural surroundings.”

The house has also featured in the magazine Homebuilding & Renovating:

“If there were a prize for best bathroom, [this] home in Hackney would easily win it. It’s rare that one finds a bathroom that multitasks, but Anne Katrine’s not only combines a magnificently stylish bathing area, but also has a space for exercising – complete with dumbbells – and hooks from which she can string a hammock to gaze up at the ever-changing sky through the room’s glazed roof.

“This fabulous creation almost did not happen at all. After all, Anne Katrine… simply wanted to reorder the space in the basement kitchen. ‘We asked an architect from 51% Studios if he could design something for us. He was sitting in the back garden and he made a sketch of a tower that would be hidden by the tree.’”

“The tree in question is a very regal and looming example of a London plane in the front garden, and the idea was to build a rear extension that, instead of finishing flush with the side wall, stood proud about 18 inches to one side. This narrowest of elevations would be glazed on ground and first floor level to frame the tree trunk and its upper limbs perfectly. The exterior would be clad in wood – taking its cue from the tree again – and be topped off by a sloping glass roof, quite unlike anything else in the area. It’s a stunning take on that most humdrum of projects, the rear extension…”

In 2008 the project received a prestigious RIBA Award, with the RIBA commenting as follows:

“You cannot help being mesmerised by the artist’s own touches, so a modest project becomes one of singular aesthetic consistency. The extension addresses the back garden with an area of nearly 100% glazing in the lower ground kitchen such that it feels almost like one was cooking out of doors. Above this is suspended a two-storey solid wood tower containing the more private study, entirely lined with birch plywood followed by a large bathroom which has an entire glass roof and brilliant light. Altogether a very successful building from modest but sure means.”


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51 Architecture

Statement
Founded in London in 1995 by Peter Thomas and Catherine du Toit, 51 Architecture is an AIA & RIBA award winning practice. The studio specialises in holistic architecture where the individual client is as important as the neighbourhood and the environment of the project.

51’s design ethos is to unlock the true potential of the existing space, light and materials to create a synthetic whole. Rigorous planning ensures the best proportions and uses of space, views are carefully framed to draw in light but avoid overlook, and materials and details work hard to create a sustainable whole.

Website
www.51architecture.com


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