The Saddlery is a listed south London home that nods to its past and looks to the future

The Saddlery by Studio Octopi is a project adding a playful green rear extension to a Grade II-listed cottage in south London

the saddlery's green rear facade
(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

The Saddlery is a project enriching a Grade II-listed late Georgian house in Blackheath Village in south London. Architecture practice Studio Octopi was called upon to create a single-storey, full-width rear extension to a family home – a seemingly simple brief to which the architects responded with flair and imagination, crafting a green, metal-clad volume at the property's garden side. At the same time, they composed a dramatic, gallery-like interior behind it, revealing both contemporary elements and the historic home's period textures.

detail of rear extension with green cladding at The Saddlery

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

The Saddlery: bridging old and new

Initially built in 1808 and enviably facing the green expanses of Blackheath, the original house was of modest – yet balanced – proportions and, occupied at some point by a master farrier, had become known as the ‘saddlery’ since the 1840s.

large extension room at the The Saddlery

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

It was at that time that an alleyway next to the residence was infilled to add to its size, taking it from a three-bay to an asymmetrical four-bay house. In the years to come, the property underwent further changes, including damage caused during the Blitz and alterations to its doors and structural buttresses. 

The Saddlery rear room with white walls and plenty of light

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

Inheriting the home, the current client approached Studio Octopi with a commission for extra space for entertaining – a flagship room that would become both a showpiece and the living, beating heart of the home for receiving guests and family. 

exposed brick wall at The Saddlery

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

While the architects' brief was to focus on the new elements only, it was important to address the structure as a whole in their solution and volume composition. 'There are no alterations to the basement, raised ground or upper floors. Critical to the design solution was the need to rationalise the levels, restore the rear elevation and make sense of the four doors from the house into the garden,' the team write.

man sitting and reading in white room at The Saddlery

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

Working with heritage and planning constraints to sculpt their volume, the architects added a smart, green steel cladding, 'chosen as a counterpoint to the red brick of the original house'. This also now provides a secondary entrance to the house.

The Saddlery white room with chair looking out

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

Inside, a glass staircase connects the extension with the existing, raised ground floor level. Round, feature openings on the ceiling help bathe the interior in natural light, at the same time adding drama to the space. 

sofa in white room at the The Saddlery extension

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

Modern materiality is also expressed through the granite step and load-bearing granite lintels on the extension's enlarged openings. 

staircase detail at The Saddlery

(Image credit: Agnese Sanvito)

Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).