Some 20 years ago, Antonius Wubben, designer and joint MD of a bespoke furniture manufacturing business, and his wife Claire, a fashion designer, had their sights set on purchasing a traditional London terrace.
With thoughts of having a family, they focused their search on three particular streets in East London’s Tower Hamlets, all in close proximity to the historic and beautiful Victoria Park and the surrounding shops and cafes. They purchased a late Victorian three storey home and over time the Wubbens put their mark on the property, blending contemporary design with period architecture.
Roll forward 18 years to 2013 and the home was becoming a bit of a squeeze — little wonder with two teenage daughters, Claire’s home-based fashion design business and with the general ‘stuff’ which families accumulate over time. However, the Wubbens had no desire to move. “We love our home, the area and the wonderful community spirit,” explains Claire. “It’s what our children know and have grown up with. If anything, the energy, vibrancy and overall appeal of the area have increased over time.”
- Name: Antonius and Claire Wubben
- Build cost: £150,000
- Build time: 9 months
- Location: London
The Extension Design
Continuing the theme of marrying traditional architecture with contemporary design, Antonius, with the help of his architect, set about designing an extension, with the aim of accommodating the family’s growing needs.
“The aim of the project was to create an additional bedroom, bathroom and a work room with plenty of storage for Claire, but in such a way that allowed for plenty of natural light,” explains Antonius. “The design needed to be sympathetic to the original structure while reflecting our personalities and design values — quite a lot of boxes to tick really!”
A two storey glazed and galvanised steel structure to the rear left of the property was designed, with a more traditional brick third storey extension to the right.
With such a radical and exciting concept, Antonius felt it prudent to involve the planning department at the early stages of the design in order to prevent costly delays further down the line. The planners insisted that it had to be possible for the property to be returned to its original form, which meant keeping the original rear door and window apertures.
Another hurdle faced by Claire and Antonius at the planning stage was the height of the neighbouring school yard wall, immediately to the left of the rear elevation. Permission from the school was granted to increase the height of the wall, thus allowing for a more accommodating ceiling height than would have been possible otherwise.
The Rainwater Harvesting System
The project also encompassed some eco-friendly features. The garden terrace, for instance, conceals a rainwater harvesting system, which necessitated Antonius digging down to a depth of six feet to conceal the Ecosure 1,100 litre spherical water storage tank.
“There really was no other practical solution than hard manual digging and then taking wheelbarrows through the lower floor of the house and emptying them out the front window,” says Antonius. “It was back-breaking work at the time but worth it since the system provides our home with 50 per cent of our grey water requirements.”
The Neptune Aqua system greatly reduces the amount of expensive, treated mains water a household uses, replacing it with free, otherwise unused rainwater. It also helps reduce surface runoff. Antonius was keen to use Neptune Aqua because of their industry experience and the fact that they are a UK manufacturer and supplier, adding further to his reduced carbon footprint goal.
Specially sourced matching galvanised steel drainpipes on the rear of the extension form part of the rainwater water harvesting system, collecting rainwater water from the pitched roofs of the rear elevations. They are a clear indication of Antonius’ belief that both function and form are of equal importance.
Author: Owen Collins