A brick and zinc-clad dwelling by Alan Morris Architect forms a strong connection with its garden site in north London


Fred Howarth

Designed by Alan Morris Architect, Hidden House sits discreetly at the end of a 60-metre garden. The client, who grew up in the existing grade-two listed dwelling, required a separate home for himself, with living accommodation on the ground floor and a bedroom, plus an additional guest room/study on the first floor. A weeping pear tree marks the pedestrian access point to the new timber-framed building; its pale green foliage inspiring the green zinc used to clad the upper level.


The constrained site dictated an elongated linear plan comprising three massing elements. A single-storey kitchen and living room flank a central two-storey element, which matches the height of the closest house on the western boundary. The plan is deliberately dislocated so that the east wall splits away from the rear volume with views to the north via a continuous, two-storey slot window. This incision is intended to break up the overall massing, provide oblique views out, and add further visual articulation to interlocking zinc and brick cladding.

Ground and first floor plans

The open southerly aspect is celebrated with a generous glazed entrance that leads from the garden approach into the heart of the building, with the kitchen, dining and living spaces configured as one continuous enfilade. Sliding and folding triple-glazed entrance doors ensure generous daylighting and a strong sense of transparency. The longitudinal section is stepped, with the sloping roof of the rear volume accommodating a five-metre-wide strip window, which brings south light into the north-facing bedroom.

Sustainability is central to the project. The timber superstructure is insulated to provide a wall U-value of 0.15, reducing heat loss and achieving an ‘A’ energy rating. A 2kw internal heat pump provides underfloor heating, and solar PV panels on the upper flat roof help to reduce grid consumption. Green wildflower meadow roofs have been planted above the kitchen and sitting room. Drainage systems for ‘dirty’ and ‘clean’ water reduce mains water consumption by feeding ‘clean’ rainwater back to the toilets, washing machine and green roofs. A polished concrete ground floor slab provides high levels of thermal mass, optimising the underfloor heating.

Additional Images


Alan Morris Architect
James Walker, Katherine Christie
Form London Engineers
Alan Arnott – Studio Nine

Zinc roofing
VMZINC and PMF Roofcraft
Polished concrete
Polished Concrete Company
ID Systems