Belsize House by Studio Carver

Studio Carver has refurbished a terraced Edwardian property in Belsize Park, north London. Its Anglo-American owners wanted a contemporary structure reminiscent of American-style timber conservatory extensions to serve as the family’s primary dining area. The modest extension replaces an existing conservatory creating more usable space internally with better visual and physical connections to the garden. Photography by Richard Chivers.

The challenge was to reference American, suburban architecture while simultaneously relating to the house’s English-Edwardian style. Tall vertical sash windows reflect the elegance and rhythm of the existing Edwardian rear French doors. Deep oak fins between the windows express this verticality whilst diminishing neighbouring views into the property. Within a dense residential neighbourhood and amongst small rear gardens the glazing and fins give the owners maximum privacy whilst maintaining an intimate relationship with their garden.

The timber fins and windows rest carefully atop a fair faced concrete plinth grounding the new conservatory. White oiled oak cladding, combined with exposed concrete, creates a calm palette of materials and subtle contrast to the existing yellow London stock brick and white painted house.

Internally an oak bench spans across the rear elevation and is integrated into the wall construction. Occupants can sit against the glazing, experiencing the garden and landscape while still protected from the heavily overlooked garden. Tracks for the sliding sash windows are recessed into the vertical fins, reducing frame depth and the building’s site lines.

A strip skylight between the extension and existing house separates new from old and together with the timber fins cast dramatic, and changing, shadows inside the space throughout the day.

Studio Carver worked closely with the carpentry company Emanuel Hendry who were engaged early in the technical design process. The collaboration between designer and carpenter enabled them to push the limits of typical timber frame construction and achieve something unique and beautiful on this small back garden site.

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