The client, a couple with a young child, approached Friend and Company with the challenge of adding a full width extension to a grade 2 listed house in one of London’s most architecturally rich residential streets. Downshire Hill in Hampstead lies within a conservation area which includes great works of modern residential architecture such as Michael Hopkins’ Glass house, Erno Goldfinger’s house in Willow Road and the Isokon Flats by Connor Ward Lucas.


With this project Friend and Company developed ‘Hampstead Modern’ to create a sustainable, low-energy, contemporary building. Working with ARUP’s Sustainable Group, Friend and Company used the latest environmental design technology for grey water and rainwater collection systems and solar water heating.


In the spirit of the client’s interest in the Japanese philosophy of wabi sabi, the building emphasises light, shade, tone and texture. A dramatic 3x3 metre steel-framed glass door opens the back of the extension to the garden. Rooms are designed as boxes within an overall box in order to make the space understandable. The materials used are understated and modest. Where possible the construction and materials are revealed rather than covered up.


Fixtures and fittings from the old house, such as 1950s taps and bath, have been restored and fitted to keep costs down and to inject character into the new building. Other details, such as light fittings have been designed by Friend and Company to following the same rigorous approach.

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