A remodelled home in London by Nicholas Szczepaniak Architects draws inspiration from its canalside location

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Nicholas Worley

Located adjacent to London’s Regents Canal, Union Wharf is a mid-terrace property built within the footprint of a former factory building. The brief was to transform a dated, under-performing and compromised dwelling into a contemporary, energy-efficient and spatially generous family home. Nicholas Szczepaniak Architects’ approach has been to use moderately priced materials, and to add value through crafted details and a carefully executed build.

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Ground, first and second-floor plans

The works included replacing and extending an existing rooftop conservatory, transforming it from a store room into a flexible space that can be used as a guest suite, lounge and/or study with an external terrace. Designed in close collaboration with Blue Engineering, the enclosure incorporates flitched components that are intended to aid structural legibility, rhythm and volumetric perception. The layered south elevation is intended to maximise natural light and connectivity between the terrace and sky. It is articulated using three bespoke ‘picture frames’ fabricated from 10mm steel plates. Responding to the interior spatial zoning, the frames accommodate full-height sliding glass doors and glare-reducing steel cables strung vertically in front of the glass. Inspired by canal boats, the interior is lined with oak and ash.

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The ground floor living area has been transformed into an open, free-flowing space that resolves the former disconnection between kitchen, lounge and dining room. A sliding glass partition allows a new playroom to be concealed or connected to the living area as required. Bespoke rotating window shutters fabricated from fluted glass provide privacy from canalside passersby while ensuring good daylighting and views out.

The material palette includes raw uncovered finishes, such as concrete soffits, that bear scars and reminders of the building’s former industrial function. By contrast, elements such as the kitchen are precisely detailed and warm in colour and texture.

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