A London house reworked by Fraher Architects incorporates a visual record of its earlier configuration


Adam Scott

Etch House is a reworked, four-bedroom Victorian terraced dwelling in south London by Fraher Architects. Traditional houses of this type typically suffer from narrow plans and corridor-like circulation spaces, says the architect. Ground-floor spaces are often rooms off a cellular corridor, with compromised first-floor bedrooms due to the non-active circulation space that runs from front to back.


The project challenges the traditional terrace layout by using a CNC-cut staircase to traverse the plan. Dark corridors and landings are replaced with active study and playroom spaces. The existing internal walls, chimney breasts, staircase and floors have been removed, allowing the floors to be dropped. A sunken ground floor ensures generous floor-to-ceiling heights in the living spaces. New elements are clad in Douglas fir to create a visual legend for the house. The existing walls are retained as painted plaster.


Ground, first and loft floor plans

Removed floors are traced onto the walls. The positions of existing features, such as the roof, staircase and decorative plasterwork, are cut into the faces of the joinery. Valchromat, a through-coloured MDF, contrasts with the Douglas Fir plywood. The full-height internal doors are also clad in Douglas fir. Hexagonal, brass, recessed finger pull details reference hexagonal tiles found in the original bathrooms.

Each floor has an accent colour finish to the joinery, brassware and ironmongery. The colours were chosen by the clients’ daughters and provide a playful contrast to the plywood and grey joinery. Concrete sinks in the bathrooms employ a black aggregate that complements the brassware.


High-levels of insulation are combined with solar water heating and a wildflower roof to lower the house’s carbon footprint.

Additional Images


Fraher Architects
Structural engineer
Constant Structural Design
Findlay Fraher Developments

Joinery design and fitout
Shape London
Oriel Windows
Blueprint Ceramics