“Natural Materials, Natural Light” by Cairn Architects

This project for a young family in Islington was constructed in stages, so that restrictions to time and budget did not lead to any reduction in quality. The existing house is meticulously restored with long-lasting natural materials. The rear extension is a calm family space in which to relax and enjoy the garden. The glazed pantry acts as a natural-light box, bringing daylight into the home office through an internal window, and the back of the deep kitchen through full height glass doors.

What were the key challenges?

Restore original house to be beautiful example of Victorian terrace house, while extension to be contemporary with high-specification kitchen. Both needed to feel part of the same home and not compete with each other.
Making sure the rear of the living room didn’t become too dark and uninviting.

What was the brief?

• In the first phase we renovated the upper floors to a high standard, but client couldn’t afford extension at same time. Rather than rush it, they installed temporary kitchen for a few years so they could do to same quality as rest of house.
• Needed more space for expanding family, better link to garden and better connectivity between spaces so that family could do own things but still remain connected.
• Were looking for pantry and a cupboard big enough for a pram, lots of light. The footprint was determined by the site, but wanted to do something unusual with the form of the roof. Had to conceal with parapet externally.
• Materials very important. Wanted natural feel, with micro-cement floor (as seen in Portugal hotel), marble worksurfaces and metal frame glazing.

Who are the clients and what’s interesting about them?

A family of 3 becoming 4, two professional parents and a toddler, had to be completed for birth of baby

How is the project unique?

Meticulous use of natural materials that will age well and maximise qualities of natural light.
Clever use of glazed pantry as light well.

Key products used:

Micro-cement floor
Mosaic tiles
Oak and marble parquet

What were the solutions?

Made pantry a lightbox in the heart of the plan, with glazing facing the kitchen, big high window into the living room and high-level external window. This brought extra natural light into the living room and kitchen, and added visual depth to both rooms, with extended views.
Formed light and peaceful home working space that has been very well used in 2020, with hub of data points invaluable.
Also, an interesting combination of steel window in rear of the meticulously restored Victorian living room, suggests the aesthetic of the new extension beyond.

Careful specification of natural materials that coordinate throughout the ground floor, such as embedding mosaic tiles within the micro-cement to reference Victorian floors, concealing hallway storage, pram and basement door behind dark wall panelling. And metalwork for window frames and details such as hearth consistent throughout.


Project Size:

Completion Date: 2018

Building Levels: 3

Architect: Cairn


  • Be the first to share your thoughts.
  • Add a comment

    You may also be interested in: