Bringing transparency to a Hampstead Arts and Crafts home

Finkernagel Ross Architects, a young Shoreditch-based practice, has designed a light-weight glass pavilion attached to a Grade II listed house in Hampstead.

Felix Finkernagel comments:

“Our design involves detailed historic and contextual research we undertake, and demonstrates the practice’s innovative methodology, exploring and testing our concept, and then implementing these ideas throughout the delivery process.”

The ‘parent’ structure is Grade II listed, built in the late 19th Century by the renowned Victorian architect Horace Field and considered by Nicolas Pevsner as an example of Field’s “early experimental work” and “…in the Tudor manor house fashion.”

Finkernagel Ross Architects tend to develop designs using a range of media, as part of the process of considering the brief, as well as the spatial and technical issues, aesthetics. These processes are almost always based on scaled representations to assist architectural ‘thinking’, usually completed by the time tender documents are sent to the builders who will then interpret the production information and realise the designs. There is always a dichotomy between designer and builder, between representation of a design and its physical embodiment in the resulting built form.

Catherine Finkernagel adds:

“With this project, we are departing from the traditional processes of design, procurement and construction, breaching the customary boundaries between them. The design process, whilst in many ways no different from any other project, has involved a full scale, 1:1 mock-up section of the most critical part of the construction of the extension.”

The project demonstrates the practice’s appreciation of cultural heritage and tradition, and the considered approach taken when introducing contemporary additions. The new pavilion at Wedderburn Road is conceived as a ‘contrapuntal’ gesture – the design celebrates the parent building and yet provides a confident, unapologetically new, addition to the overall ensemble.

Catherine Finkernagel comments:

“Our design was driven by the desire to treat the parent building and historic fabric with respect, without subjugating the new pavilion to its aesthetic. The prominence and integrity of the principal bay is being restored by cutting back the later additions which compromised the original massing of the house. The new pavilion creates a counterpoint to the original fabric in terms of materials and detailing and is attached to the house by frameless glass to articulate their relationship. The detailing of the extension is designed, again contrary to the gravitas of its context, to dematerialise it with a floating brise-soleil seemingly carved from a solid block of marble.

Internally a new space is carved out of the existing fabric not by demolition of existing walls but by creating an introverted, fully timber-panelled enclosure that regularises the current awkward proportions. This transitional space between the existing rooms of the house and the new kitchen pavilion takes its inspiration from Sir John Soane’s breakfast room.”