Frame House

bureau de change architects used detail and precision to complete a rear extension and refurbishment to a Victorian terraced house in South London.

  • area / size 1,722 sqft
  • Year 2020
  • Type House,
  • Bureau de Change employed their characteristically questioning approach to produce an unconventional arrangement of interlocking geometric glass volumes which reveal a sequence of compelling interior spaces.

    The practice challenged standard solutions to planning rules which determine a 45-degree angle between surrounding properties, instead achieving the maximum envelope possible with purely rectilinear forms that are staggered and stepped at the boundaries. This complex design of interconnected forms drawn from the geometry of the site and its adjacencies evokes an almost Metabolist sense of crystalline growth – with volumes extruded in different directions, some sitting beneath the original house and others expanding outwards.

    The detailing of this structure features a technically complex steel-frame construction reminiscent of the museum case, combining fragility with solidity in a manner that represents an antidote to the frameless glass extensions of the past decade.

    Material choices and lighting serve to emphasise this passage, transitioning from the darker enclosure of the kitchen towards the brighter open spaces that lead to the garden. Both the interior space and the landscaping are designed with shifting levels that create both useful and playful ledges, steps, and borders. Terrazzo floor surfaces in subtly different shades enhance this staging, identifying distinct areas for dining and living with darker tones, leading to lighter ones where the stone meets the garden to form a language of planters and vertical surfaces.

    These principles and material choices are continued throughout the rest of the house across two further floors, including the creation of a new master and a guest suite on the second floor. A bespoke terrazzo handrail forms the spine of this material journey, linking spaces throughout the house which unfold in a sequence of visually stimulating rooms where texture, graphics, colour and finish have been selected for their theatre and tactility.

    Design: bureau de change architects
    Photography: Gilbert McCarragher