Known for designing some of the most innovative buildings in the UK and specialising in sustainable communities, 2019 marked Sarah Wigglesworth Architects 25th-anniversary creating people-centred places that are joyful, inventive and resourceful. This landmark was celebrated with a project that can adapt and change as a family develops over the next year, five years and beyond.
By investing in the future now, the design considers pressing timely concerns and the long-term requirements of the occupants – mutual support, accessibility, comfort, energy use and adaptability were all given priority.
Housed on an infill site in Kensal Green that was occupied by a dairy farm until the early 20th century, the L-shaped building’s form references the outbuildings common in traditional agricultural buildings. A greenhouse – the only remaining structure left standing from that time now forms the centrepiece of the garden. Reincarnated as a light-filled lobby, the structure was refurbished and acts as a welcome space for relaxation amongst the warm enveloping backyard.
An open plan kitchen, dining and living area creates a naturalistic space for family life to play out, while visual connections between different parts of the home are encouraged by the L-shaped plan. While individual space is defined by window seats, a reading nook and the private bedroom wing that punctuate the space.
Green principles were considered during material selection. A sedum roof fills the entrance with natural light reflecting the terrazzo flooring below. The open plan areas utilise a poured natural resin floor made from plants while the sleeping areas have engineered, brushed and band sawn oak creating a feeling of restful warmth. The pure white walls are set off by a colour palette that ranges from muted grey and green to yolk yellow. Cedar cladding is used externally in timber shingles and boarding that will weather to a silvery grey with highlights of corrugated metal that alludes to the buildings past connection to its agricultural heritage.
Sarah and the SWA team worked in tandem with the values of the family, they expressed a commitment to healthy living and materials and are very keen gardeners.
Homeowner Ben Magid discussed: “We also wanted a place to provide a natural habitat for wildlife where the house felt part of the landscape. The rear garden was designed for low maintenance with a small lawn area, lots of planting and a large brick terrace area on the same level as the open plan kitchen/living wing. The front garden serves as both a winding path and an edible garden, planted with apples, pears, berries, figs and perennial vegetables.”
The house was designed and constructed according to Passivhaus principles ensuring it will have a very low energy footprint. Heating is provided by an air source pump and MHVR provides controlled ventilation.
The result is a long-lasting, energy-efficient building that forms the basis for a nurturing age-embracing family home.
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