Where once there stood a row of derelict garages on a tricky and rather unpromising corner plot in Bristol, there is now a striking contemporary home that has been designed to make the very most of its site. Due to the difficult site condition, the demolition of the garages had to be done by hand, as did the removal of over 500 tonnes of clay soil and the unexpected underpinning of an existing retaining wall separating the new house from the property directly behind it.

Built from brick and block, a combination of cladding materials has been used, including local Pennant stone, cedar cladding fixed in random lengths, as well as a through-coloured render.

The house is designed into three main sections, each hinged around the central areas of the house. All the aluminium windows have been positioned in order to take into account privacy and overlooking, with the two bedroom windows at the front featuring opaque glass.

Project Notes

  • Project: Contemporary self build
  • Location: Bristol
  • Build time: Aug 2013 – Aug 2015
  • Size: 134m²
  • Plot cost: £87,000
  • Build cost: £300,000
  • Value: £695,000

Chris and Kirsty Birakos

Front Elevation

The design features two ‘wings’ with a central section. The timber cladding has been laid both vertically and horizontally for added interest.

exterior of a timber clad self build on a brownfield plot

Entrance Hallway

Despite the overlooking issues associated with the plot, natural light is not a problem — sliding doors on both the first and ground floors and double height spaces have overcome the problem.

glazed hallway and entrance in a city self build

Kitchen Diner

The house steps down into the kitchen diner in response to the sloping nature of the site — in this way privacy is maintained, despite the fact that the room is road-facing.

open plan kitchen diner with black dining table
contemporary kitchen diner in a self build home

Living Room

The ingenious way in which the main living spaces are centred around a courtyard space mean the proximity of the house to the road goes almost unnoticed.

contemporary living room with yellow armchairs and black sofa

Spacious Landing

The landing features a run of large rooflights and sliding doors meaning that the lack of windows to the rear of the house has no impact on the amount of natural light entering the house.

study on a landing
contemporary self build landing with picture windows

Master Bedroom

The unusual angles of the house have added interest internally, such as here in the master bedroom, where opaque glass has been used at the window.

white bedroom with dressing table


In the main bathroom, rooflights draw in natural light, whilst great attention has been paid to high quality fixtures and fittings

grey bathroom with sloping ceiling

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