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Visionary times

Even before we begin to sketch out a design we talk through lots of scenarios and wish lists with our clients. For our Highgate project, one of the reasons Anya and Robin wanted to rebuild was that their existing layout was very restrictive.

Facit architect George Legg described it as “cellular and fragmented” especially on the ground floor where there was a dominating circulation space in the middle, positioning the rooms quite far away from each other. So the aim of our new design was to have more interconnectivity internally allowing free movement between rooms on all floors.  

When we started to demolish the old house we realised that its construction was rather poor so knocking it down and starting again really was the best solution.

Light is big factor. The basement swimming pool backs on to the garden so we’ve included roof lights along one side which will let in masses of natural light.

On the first floor, the hallway runs from front to back along the spine of the house with light flooding this space through windows from the both sides as well as above. Bedrooms positioned at the front and back will have generous, tall windows while the largely open plan arrangement of the ground floor will make the most of changing lighting levels as the sun moves around the house front back to front.

The advantage of a bespoke building design is that we can consider who is actually going to live in the house; it’s not a generic “off-the-peg” family. For the Nuttalls, it was important that their three young children each have their own little space. We had conversations about how the bathrooms were going to be arranged, if the children would have baths or showers and how their needs might change as they grow older.

There’s a TV room at the front of the house which is quite separate and gives the children a quiet space to play. A utility room has been designed in the middle of the house on the ground floor with doors that slide right back so chores can be carried out while keeping an eye on the children.

We’re now at the stage of choosing the internal materials; a family of darker woods such as walnut are being considered. Our discussions include how to tie-in the kitchen materials with that of the staircases and built-in furniture elsewhere in the house. Anya likes the idea of a textured or patterned floor so parquet flooring is a possibility.

The internal walls will have areas of subtle colours and then lots of white to reflect the light. We are also looking at a simple palette of materials for the exterior of stone and light-coloured render. The roof will be a traditional tiled pitch roof in grey slate with rendered gables on the front and back.

The basement subcontractors are now onsite and whilst the building construction has yet to take shape, the final design decisions are being made. The beauty of our 3D model means it’s possible to virtually walk through the design, experiencing every room layout, seeing the position and type of fixtures and fittings, ensuring the design is understood in every dimension.


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