Penny Shankar has transformed a 1950s bungalow by adding a flat-roofed timber-frame structure on top, creating a modernist two-storey home.
At first glance, Penny Shankar’s new contemporary-style family home in Gloucestershire looks, well, very much of its day — Modernist inspired but softened with vertical oak boarding, a pleasing mix of large European-style window openings and a striking near-black render. When Penny tells you that the site used to house a 1950s bungalow, you quickly visualise the demolition team taking apart the old house and clearing the site, fresh for the new arrival. But look a little bit closer and you’ll see that not only did Penny save the original bungalow, but actually made it the centre point of the new design.
“I love contemporary design but I realised that the existing bungalow – an individual design built in the 1950s – did itself have some Modernist principles,” says Penny, an architect. “It seemed wise to incorporate as much of the existing bungalow as possible into my new design and, more importantly, it seemed absolutely crazy to put so many perfectly good building materials and what was in essence a perfectly good home to waste.”
“I had been looking for a new home for a while,” says Penny, “when I came across the bungalow. It was a real gem — just five minutes’ walk from the town centre, but hidden away on a delightful, if sloping, one-third-of-an-acre plot. As a result the house was almost completely private, with an established garden and wonderful silver birch trees. It was clearly a great opportunity.”
Penny and her two boys, Harry and Louis, lived in the bungalow for over a year while working out how to approach any redevelopment. “I’m glad I did,” says Penny. “I think many people make snap decisions about the bigger choices like orientation, but also the smaller things, like exact positions of windows. Having that time enabled me to understand the plot.”
Gradually formed, the design concept for the project is now quite straightforward to see. The existing bungalow has been kept almost entirely as it was (bar the removal of the roof, obviously), and a new flat-roof timber frame structure placed on top, offering more in the way of open plan living and large, light spaces.
Apart from a little bit of underpinning to one part of the existing foundations, little remedial work was required — structurally at least. “We chose a lightweight timber frame for the ‘box’ upstairs which only has a modest net weight increase on the original concrete tiled roof,” says Penny.
The new section of the house contains a rather unusual feature — an aluminium floor. It’s not solid aluminium but large 1m x 2m panels of metal that sit as the top 2mm layer on a ply base which is biscuit-jointed together, meaning its construction and fitting have similar characteristics to regular engineered wood flooring. “It was quite a challenge to get right,” says Penny. “Immediately after it was installed we started getting black marks on our feet and socks, which we realised was the oxidisation transferring away from the floor. We eventually used a sealer – the kind that you might use on a stone floor – and we’ve had the best part of two years with it now without problems. Once the black marks start coming back, you know it’s time to re-seal!”
Despite initial teething problems, the effect is stunning. Glaring shiny parts where the floor has had less traffic contrast with the more scuffed and marked elements where chairs and shoes have scraped it — all part of the charm of its evolution, and a clever addition to this stylish home.