Yellow Cloud Studio juggles with geometry in a triangular domestic extension


Alex Forsey

Working from home but lacking a dedicated office space for their start-up company, the clients for the Triangle sought to extend their three-storey Victorian property in Hackney, east London, into its small back garden. The brief to architect Yellow Cloud Studio was to create a bright, generous space to be used as a study, with the capacity to occasionally host meetings, while maintaining a minimal external space.


The existing layout was problematic in terms of connecting the main house to the north-facing rear garden, which was located at the lower-ground-floor level. A bulky staircase led from the ground floor to a triangular-shaped garden, which felt detached and residual. The unusual geometry of the garden proved to be both the biggest challenge and a crucial element in the design.


Yellow Cloud Studio’s proposal responded to the garden’s shape by positioning a triangular timber structure along the existing walls, distancing it from the rear facade of the house with a generous glazed strip. This elongated glass skylight brings natural light to both the Triangle and to the rear rooms of the house. The sharpest angle of the triangular garden is retained as a small patio with a built-in bench and space for plants. A wedge-shaped skylight is introduced at the point where the patio meets the Triangle, adding a transitional ambiguity between inside and outside.

To counter the Triangle’s complexity, the palette was restricted to plywood, timber deck and glass. The sheets of high-quality birch plywood that clad the walls, floor and ceiling were meticulously cut to maintain even gaps and continuous connection lines. The Triangle’s independence as a separate volume is reinforced by the detailed design, for example with clear separation lines indicated in the floor finishes, and the dark-stained decking of the patio floor contrasting with the pale plywood. However, the main wall that joins the existing building’s rear facade was built in London yellow stocks, sympathetic to the Victorian character of the property and blurring the boundary between inside and outside. Internal lighting plays an important role, with brass feature wall lights and hidden strips that add accents to the wall and bookshelves.


Together with the Triangle, the project included a basement conversion with a bedroom, bathroom, utility and movie room, plus an en-suite bathroom on the top floor, where the original chimney breast suggested a symmetrical arrangement. Pastel colours were combined with a warm grey polished plaster wall finish, pattern tiles and concrete basins. The project increased the floor area from 120 to 180 square metres for a construction cost of £257,000.

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