New London Architecture

An interlocking puzzle: Two and Half Storey House

Thursday 06 May 2021

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‘I like it. It’s clever. I was in an ex-council house before the one I am in now and it is the sort of thinking I could have really done with’ – Sebastian Wood, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Whitby Wood and Don't Move, Improve! Judge


Two and Half Storey House by Bradley Van Der Straeten is the Joint Winner of this year's Compact Design of the Year Prize. The Special Prize is awarded to the project that demonstrates ingenuity and creativity in a design with tight space constraints.

The project was completed for a family having a second baby on the way and who didn’t want to move from their two-bedroom home, located on a housing estate in Stoke Newington.

After unsuccessful attempts to get planning for a new full height roof extension, the solution was to work within Permitted Development guidelines and add a half-height box dormer, invisible from the street. The challenge was to make the unconventional interior volumes habitable. This was solved by stacking the two bedrooms, one above another, interlocking like 3d Tetris blocks, providing enough space for an additional room.

This clever, complex, geometric challenge of a project sits on a Stoke Newington housing estate - on which the architect also lives.  Many of the homes in the area are two-storey houses with long, thin layouts, and many have taken advantage of permitted development to create long, thin dormer extensions to get an extra floor. But the scheme’s wider and shorter form meant that the architect needed to opt for a different, ingenious proposition. The clients were seeking an extra bedroom, with the solution being a half storey addition that fits within regulations. This was achieved by stepping (in section) interlocking rooms, Corbusier’s Unite d’Habitation being something of an inspiration to architect George Bradley.

The scheme includes making the ground floor open plan and creating a new kitchen, plus new full-width glazing onto the garden, with the beginnings of the language of the upstairs work expressed in the plywood clad stair. The stair continues past two bedrooms and bathroom at first floor and on to a new level with interlocking volumes and storage within, squeezing out as much space and head-height as possible. ‘What we wanted to do by adding this extra bedroom is add the extra space but kind of achieve something that didn't make the house feel smaller by squeezing an extra bedroom in’, said Bradley. ‘We actually wanted to result in adding more space within a similar volume but to make the house feel bigger as well’. 


The winning team: George Bradley and Ewald Van Der Straeten from Bradley Van Der Straeten 

COMMENTS FROM THE ARCHITECT AND JUDGES

The Judges:

‘I like it. It’s clever. I was in an ex-council house before the one I am in now and it is the sort of thinking I could have really done with’ – Sebastian Wood, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Whitby Wood 
 
‘It’s clever geometry’ – Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief, NLA

The Architect & Homeowner:

'It’s a really easy family house to live in and we love being able to see our eldest son playing in his room using the hallway window. From the moment my son saw his room he loved it and will play for hours in there!'
 
‘Working with an architect who has really thought about the detail is important. The team at BVDS created a house that we can truly live in. Every corner of the house has been considered and thought through’
WHO ARE THIS YEAR'S JUDGES?

TEAM CREDITS

Architect
Bradley Van Der Straeten Architects

Contractor
Gregos Builders And Decorators

Structural Engineer
Constant Structural Design LTD

Photographer
FRENCH+TYE

PROJECT INFORMATION

Status
Built

Borough
Hackney

Size
98 sq m

Completion
November 2019

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