House in a terrace, Hackney

House in a terrace, Hackney


During the late 19th century there was a large expansion of house building within London that formed new crescents and streets around the city. These Victorian terraces were often simple brick construction that offered reasonable accommodation such as a cellar for storing coal, a series of small ground floor rooms and three bedrooms at first floor level. Originally built to accommodate large or extended families, these properties have endured years of changing living habits and offer an interesting record of how the populations needs have changed.
The desire for residents in London’s 21st century to modernise and gain more area from these simple forms is evident by the demand for accommodation. Many of these terraced houses have been extended into the back garden with butterfly roofs adapted. Although not evident from the streetscape, these works are often expressed on the rear elevations where much “dentistry” has occurred.

Our site which is in the centre of a long crescent of terraced housing had been rented for over 25 years. Our brief was to restore and adapt the terraced house for private rental within this popular neighbourhood.

Our response was a sympathetic re-ordering and mending of this crumbling structure. Many tenants had lived at the property and had left the building tired with layer upon layer of paint and alterations.

We endeavoured to respect the essence of the Victorian building by repairing its façades and replace all the windows with a double-glazed timber framed sash. The original elements such as internal window shutters and fireplaces were restored. The application of new materials was economically and appropriately considered for residential use. New reclaimed pine floorboards were laid throughout, and the scale and appearance of the boards seemed in keeping with the original house.

We extended the rear kitchen into the side lightwell and created a stepped threshold that mediated between this new contemporary addition and the existing Victorian reception room. This garden room offered a new elevation to the rear garden. We used a white glazed brick for the new elevation - a nod to Victorian ordering and inset new green coloured frames around windows and doors. New rooflights increased the brightness of this once gloomy lightwell and a polished screed floor with inlaid tiles added further contrast to the house. The kitchen units and cabinetry are quietly subdued with an inset red coloured concrete worktop and splashback that completed this new space.

Upstairs the bedrooms were carefully restored and refurbished to offer three well-ordered rooms with a new family bathroom which offered functionality - complimented with polished plaster walls with simple matt, grey tiling.

Photographs: Thomas Adank