New London Architecture

Timber Triumph: Grain House

Thursday 06 May 2021

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David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly

‘[Grain House] has a sense of permanence; it will be fabulous for the foreseeable’ – Karen Stylianides, Editor, Grand Designs Magazine and Don't Move, Improve! Judge


Grain House by Hayhurst and Co. is the winner of this year's Don't Move, Improve! Materiality & Craftmanship Prize. The prize, sponsored by VitrA, recognises designs that take particular attention to detail and care when considering materials and finishes and is awarded to a project that demonstrates innovative material choices and construction techniques.

Grain House is a remodelled and extended Victorian, semi-detached property in the de Beauvoir Conservation Area in Hackney, north London.

Designed for a young family, the house connects original and new living spaces and creates a visual link from the entrance, through the family spaces to the garden and on to the new artist’s studio at the back of the site. Prior to the works, the house was arranged as a series of small, cellular spaces with only a narrow ‘servant’s stair’ connecting the living spaces on the lower and upper ground floors. Then new design dramatically reconnects these living spaces with the creation of a 2-storey courtyard at the heart of the house.

The Grain House project was to create a timber-clad extension and house remodelling including a new, light-bringing courtyard plus a new artist’s studio to the rear of a semi-detached house in de Beauvoir town, Hackney, north London.

The two-storey courtyard brings in both light and acts as the centre of a ‘promenade’ around the house, making it a key experience of the building (as well as being home to a Japanese privet). Moving this circulation to the side also allowed for a long-distance view across the house, out to the garden and to the kitchen, dining and living spaces. Accessible from the lower level, the deep courtyard also provides light and ventilation as well as a connection from inside to out.

So, why ‘Grain House’? Firstly because of the number of different, mainly native timber species used across the project, say the designers; secondly because the plan configuration is if anything against the grain of a Victorian terraced layout, with a resultantly different sequence of spaces and spatial feel. 

Walls are of natural and clay plaster, while fully inset timber doors lead out onto the garden, where the extension’s naturally weathered Siberian larch-clad roof is visible, above a charred larch below the canopy. The studio at the end of the garden echoes the timber-clad theme, providing a convenient space for homeworking, with roof joints rotated in plan to give a roof that gives ornamentation to the structure, plus a picture window back to the main house.

Jon Nichols, Architect, Hayhurst & Co.

COMMENT FROM THE SPECIAL PRIZE SPONSOR

VitrA is delighted to be supporting the Materiality and Craftsmanship Prize at this year’s Don’t Move, Improve! Awards. Championing innovation and resourcefulness, this category is important to us as we’re always considerate and invested in our material choices and the care with which we design our products. 
 
Thank you to NLA for allowing us to be involved in such a valuable opportunity where we can engage with architects in a meaningful way. We’re excited to be celebrating the most innovative home improvement solutions in London and can’t wait to see the submissions!’

COMMENTS FROM THE ARCHITECT AND JUDGES

The Architect:

‘We spent a lot of time thinking about the relationship of the tone of the timber with the tone of the brickwork, as something which is sympathetic but also quite striking. And also, building in this idea of the grain house and the grain of the fabric, the grain of the footprint, and how that works as a kind of inside and outside relationship’ Hayhurst & Co.

The Judges:

'It’s a pretty special space that they’ve created with that courtyard. It’s really lovely' Melissa Dowler, Director, Bell Phillips Architects

‘I’m very impressed by the detailing of the junction of the roof and the walls. It’s worked very nicely’ Peter Murray, Curator-in-chief, NLA

'It has a sense of permanence; it will be fabulous for the foreseeable’ – Karen Stylianides, Editor, Grand Designs Magazine
WHO ARE THIS YEAR'S JUDGES?

TEAM CREDITS

Architect
Hayhurst and Co.

Contractor
Rebuild London

Structural Engineer
Webb Yates

Building Control
London Building Control

Photographer
Kilian O'Sullivan

PROJECT INFORMATION

Status
Built

Borough
Hackney

Size
256 sqm

Completion
June 2019

VIEW THIS YEAR'S FULL SHORTLIST
FOLLOW DON'T MOVE, IMPROVE! ON INSTAGRAM
ABOUT DON'T MOVE, IMPROVE!

David Taylor

Editor, NLQ and New London Weekly


Don't move, Improve

#DontMoveImprove

THE MATERIALITY & CRAFTMANSHIP PRIZE IS SPONSORED BY

PARTNERS

SUPPORTERS

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