1950s South London home transformed into ‘house-within-a-house’

1950s South London home transformed into ‘house-within-a-house’

London architects Alma-nac have created House-within-a-House, a new, self-build family home designed around an existing 1950s house in Brockley, which wraps the original structure in a new skin and adds an extra floor 

When looking for a new family home, the traditional options in London are to either buy an older property and then restore it internally, perhaps adding a rear or loft extension; or build from scratch. Architecture studio Alma-nac’s latest residential project is none of the above. When the enterprising young office was invited to create a modern home out of a, rather uninspiring, 1950s two-storey house in South London’s Brockley, it boldly decided to keep both the existing structure’s frame, and create a new house around it.

Aptly named House-within-a-House, the commission involved wrapping a new brick structure that spans three floors around the existing property. ‘As well as providing an economical and sustainable solution to create a thermally-efficient home, the response resolves the problem of the incongruous and uninspiring 1950s house breaking up the pattern of the street,’ say the architects. 

House-within-a-House night

The new outline, made out of warm grey brick, complements its context, both in terms of volumetric composition and colouring. At the same time, this move allowed a considerable addition to the house’s footprint, creating an impressive six-bedroom home for the clients’ family of seven, in a fairly restricted budget.

The new entrance is situated in a single storey side extension. From there, visitors are guided through to a staircase core and a tall void that offers great sense of space, as well as an overview of the internal arrangement. A large, open plan living space off it, including seating, kitchen, dining areas and a study, occupies the ground leve, along with a separate ‘snug’ room. 

The exposed timber roof structure and rear extension ceiling beams effortlessly create beautiful features out of the building’s bones. Meanwhile, bedrooms are located above, set in a neutral colour palette that ensures a serene, fairly minimalist feel throughout, aided by the subtle yet robust material selection. 

‘The client’s restricted budget, enthusiasm for unpretentious, utilitarian materials and requirement for robustness – requisite for this family with five young boys – led to the choice of brick, timber (plywood) and concrete, creating stripped-back interiors punctuated by touches of vibrant colour,’ explain the architects. §

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