House 141

Andrew Wallace Architects + Interior Designers

House 141
Greater Manchester

The brief was to renovate an existing building which had developed and evolved over time with little in the way of cohesion or planning; comprising a series of joined buildings each carrying its own associated history and a mix of architectural styles. This involved making sense of these disparate parts and bringing them all together as a unified whole, creating light filled spaces that function as a modern home with all the accommodation requirements this entails, plus a section of the house capable of functioning as a separate flat for another family member.

The two historic buildings were stripped back to their original state in order to reveal their true identity through removing extraneous architectural build ups. Exposing true architectural and historical elements gave a clarity to the group of buildings, into which a new circulation strategy was integrated. Replacing the two existing staircases, one in each wing of the building, with one central staircase resulted in coherent and efficient movement throughout the building. In order for the historic barn to continue to be read as distinct from the other parts of the building at this critical junction, the new link extension containing vertical circulation would housed in a 'glass box' and therefore read as being invisible. This manifests itself physically as a glazed front facade and fully glazed roof light, a minimally detailed staircase with glass treads and balustrade rising to a glass floored landing.

This theme of new insertions being light in nature and generally deferential to the existing solid historic masses is continued in the extension to the kitchen, where a glass fin structure sits delicately on the gable wall. What once was an isolated and pokey kitchen is now large and light filled. Connectivity is improved with views to other sections of the house and an island unit orientated to face the double height space of the living area.

This double height central hub has been reformulated to become open plan and spacious. A glass walkway over the double height volume connects into the glass landing of the link extension, but does not impose itself on the space because of its translucency. The use of glass bi-folding doors allows the space to connect fully with the garden. As the glazed facade is directly south facing, an oak brise soleil has been introduced. This remodelling of the existing late twentieth century facade brings contemporary styling to the building, expressing the new element as boldly as the historic ones.

The proposal for the first floor area of the barn accommodates the master bedroom, en-suite and walk-in wardrobe. The rituals of washing, bathing and dressing are separated by a free standing white plastered monolithic wall dramatically back lit by four large Velux rooflights, allowing day light to filter through to the bedroom, whilst maintaining two contrasting atmospheres.

Overall, the valuable historic parts of the building are emphasised and brought into focus by the sensitive stripping away of the superfluous and the addition of complementary ‘light touch’ modern elements.