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Higham House

Higham House
ASA  Listed Building 2007 The existing house, one of a series of identical Edwardian cottages in a small development facing onto generous shared landscaped gardens has a small individual private garden to the front and rear and is typified by coursed rubble sandstone walls and steep pitched roofs. The area has been a conservation area for some time. The clients, two mathematicians with a young family required a new kitchen, utility, dining, study and bathroom spaces as well as a bedroom and a more direct link to the rear garden for children to play in an overlooked environment. The rear garden level is almost a storey below front garden level and from early discussions with the client; it seemed that there were possibilities to exploit this to create more space without impinging significantly on the rear garden. The planning authorities insisted on natural slate and traditional Scottish harling as the external materials.

The design provides a new spatial sequence from the existing hall leading down to a new open kitchen at garden level off which, an elliptical dining space is located. The bay creates space from what would be a difficult area of the garden to develop, namely a narrow left-over area between building and boundary fence. Further utilitarian accommodation is created within the existing building shell by a new split level arrangement rising 3 steps to a child’s bedroom above and a shower room and utility below.

Externally, the new extension is conceived as a simple slate roof below which a variety of internal and external spaces occur. Externally, the hipped roof extends beyond the internal space creating a sheltered terrace and a wider sense of enclosure with the perimeter hedging. Light is brought into the building in a variety of different ways. Clear skylight floods in through a fully glazed ridge and a circular roof light above the ellipse. A corner sliding screen allows softer light reflected from the greenery outside and small windows in the ellipse, above worktop and the raised study give glimpses of the garden spaces from unexpected positions.

The result is a completely surprising sense of light and spatial generosity given the modest footprint of the extension and its external simplicity. Furthermore, given that the new spaces are at a lower level than the main house entrance, the contrast is stronger. A hint of what is to come is provided by the new study which flows from the entrance hall and overlooks the new spaces below. With views to the front garden and glimpses through the entire length to the rear garden, this modest space has a pivotal position and introduces the interlocking sequence of spaces and levels which follows.

The construction is a timber frame with external harled blockwork cavity wall and concrete slab floor. Flitch beams span the wider and more demanding openings. The ellipse is formed in timber frame with render on lathe. Simple rafters, sarking board and natural slate make up the roof structure.

The timescale was as follows:
Appointment: May 2003
Planning permission granted: March 2005
Site works: May-November 2006

The contract sum was £116,500.00.

Both structural engineer and main contractor appointed have worked on a number of previous projects with us and share an ambition to build good architecture.
PROJECT: Higham House
CLIENT: Catherine and Des Higham
ARCHITECT: StudioKAP Chartered Architects
Higham House
Higham House
Higham House

Main Contractor:  Standard Construction

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