Hayhurst & Co deploys a rich palette of natural materials in a transformative residential extension


Kilian O’Sullivan

Hayhurst & Co’s extension of a semi-detached house in London’s de Beauvoir Conservation Area makes inventive use of a variety of timber species and other natural materials to which texture and visual interest has been added through patination, oiling and charring.


The project makes larger living areas from a plan formerly composed of small spaces, creating a visual link from the entrance, through the family spaces to the garden and on to the new artist’s studio at the back of the site. “Prior to the works, the house was arranged as a series of cellular spaces with only a narrow ‘servant’s stair’ connecting the living spaces on the lower and upper ground floors”, explains the architect. “Our design dramatically reconnects these living spaces with the creation of a two-storey courtyard at the heart of the house that is home to a new Japanese privet tree and a sculpture by Annie Morris”.

The original staircase – leading upwards – has been joined by a new one leading downwards, and together they “present a threshold between the formal spaces to the Victorian property and the contemporary living spaces below”, says the architect. The new staircase wraps around the courtyard providing views of the upper branches of the tree and different views through the house and garden as one moves from one level to the next. At the lower-ground-floor level, the kitchen-dining area has an oak-framed picture window with a window seat to look out over the garden.


The palette of materials includes hand-made encaustic tiles, natural lime plaster, pre-patinated copper, charred Siberian larch cladding and Douglas fir flooring. “Native timbers were sourced where possible”, says the architect, “and were combined to create a distinctive kitchen made by Sebastian Cox. The materials have been sourced to age with the property so that they mature over time, providing a rich texture of weathered and patinated finishes. The studio, shaped in response to the profile of an old summer house, takes the form of a magical imaginary woodland creature nestling amongst the trees, like a piece of inhabited sculpture”.

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