In London, architect Julia Hamson transforms the dark, cramped kitchen of her Victorian terrace house into a flexible gathering space.

In London, architect Julia Hamson transforms the dark, cramped kitchen of her Victorian terrace house into a flexible gathering space.

When London architect Julia Hamson founded her studio 4 S Architecture in early 2020, her first project was one close to her heart—a rear extension to the family home she shares with her husband and young daughter. The couple had been living in the home for six years, so they knew exactly what was needed. “The house was very dark, so my main brief was to create a flexible, open-plan space filled with natural light,” says Julia. “We wanted our whole family to be able to come together to eat, cook, and play—and the space had to be able to adapt to the changing needs of our family as our daughter grows up.” 

The rear extension is clad in Brunel smooth blue brick. "I chose a dark, gloomy color to complement the dark blue iron spot in the London stock brick that the rest of the house is made of," says Julia. "I wanted it to be different and feel like a contemporary addition that speaks of its time."

The rear extension is clad in Brunel smooth blue brick. “I chose a dark, gloomy color to complement the dark blue iron spot in the London stock brick that the rest of the house is made of,” says Julia. “I wanted it to be different and feel like a contemporary addition that speaks of its time.” 

Henry Woide

The Victorian home is on a friendly cul-de-sac street in South London, and it was during the annual neighborhood street party that Julia got talking to her neighbors about how they were both planning a rear extension. They quickly realized that by working together, they would be less limited by planning regulations when it came to the height of the extension.

The rear extension features a large picture window that allows for a strong connection with the garden without the visual distraction of a folding door frame. The powdery pink concrete resin floor is from Pure Floor.

The rear extension features a large picture window that allows for a strong connection with the garden without the visual distraction of a folding door frame. The powdery pink concrete resin floor is from Pure Floor. “I wanted a warmer tone than just gray concrete,” says Julia. “It works really well with underfloor heating, is seamless so there’s no grout to fill with dirt, super easy to clean, and really robust.”  

Henry Woide

Julia had previously applied for planning permission, but had been asked to reduce the height along the boundary to 2.5 meters rather than the proposed four meters. The neighbor’s architect had designed a sawtooth roof facing the opposite direction, and so it was suggested that they create a four-meter-high party wall at the junction.

The light-filled extension opens out from the narrow hallway that runs through the home from the front door.

The light-filled extension opens out from the narrow hallway that runs through the home from the front door. “I’m from Canada and I worked in Chicago, so I know the work of Frank Lloyd Wright well,” says Julia. “One of the interesting theatrical architectural techniques he often used was to design a very low, dark entrance hall so that when you emerge in the main living space, it feels brighter and more dramatic by way of contrast. I already had that dark corridor, and the four-meter-high extension is filled with natural light. I always wanted something magical at the end of the journey.” 

Henry Woide

See the full story on Dwell.com: This Exquisite Extension With a Zigzag Roof Was Made Possible by Neighborly Collaboration
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