Soaring ceilings define Tara Gbolade’s dramatic Timber House

Soaring ceilings define Tara Gbolade’s dramatic Timber House

A dramatic wood-clad extension and tall, angular ceilings define Gbolade Design Studio’s Timber House in Kent

A 1960s home in Chislehurst, Kent, in the UK, has been transformed with a dramatic extension by London based Gbolade Design Studio. Headed by Tara Gbolade, the architecture practice created a bold new design, Timber House, which goes beyond pure aesthetics to enhance the building’s sustainability credentials and the architecture’s overall functionality. Clad in stylish dark timber and featuring a defining pitched roof, the house results from a commission to refurbish and extend a family home

The new structure may have changed the home’s spatial experience but it doesn’t feel alien within its context; in fact, its new shapes and size are proportionate, respecting its surroundings and the existing building. Inside, however, the space has been significantly upgraded, with the addition creating soaring double-height ceilings, angular feature interiors (which reflect the original and new pitched roofs), and an open-plan arrangement that encourages interaction and flexiblity for the residents. 

The project’s statement piece is the entrance element, which slots within existing volumes and becomes more pronounced at the rear. ‘This new piece is clad in black timber with the remainder of the house in brickwork, says Gbolade. ‘Its expression is honest internally, with its slim form reflected as a double-height entrance space whose internal vaulted roof is celebrated. This also brought the opportunity for a balcony leading out of the new and enlarged bedrooms created on first floor, and this now acts as the perfect vantage point for the guardian of the manor, the family dog.’

The Timber House’s main living space and dramatic roof structure

The large openings and open-plan spaces also bring plenty of light, deep into the house. ‘The plan was reorganised to allow new light into the heart of the building, flooding a new double-height entrance with natural light while creating a visual connection between the first floor and the entrance,’ explain the architects. ‘This newly introduced light travels through to the rear of the house, which was reorientated to address the garden and organised into three distinct spaces that flow into each other: a place to cook, a place to eat, a place to lounge.’ 

Interventions in the energy use of the building led to reduced costs as well as a better quality of internal space and comfort for the family throughout. Keeping her work here low carbon fits within Gbolade’s overall approach, which prioritises sustainable architecture – both environmentally and socially, through her numerous architecture activism initiatives. 

Sitting right on the edge of natural woodland, the house and its new timber skin feel entirely of their place. While the improvements to the house’s interior and sustainability features, as well as to the owners’ lifestyle, were considerable, the architecture remains arguably humble, happily blending into its surrounding, low-key suburban fabric. §

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