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.”

The Project

  • 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.

Planning Permission

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.

glazed london extension rear exterior

A two storey glazed and galvanised steel structure to the rear left of the property mixes with a more traditional brick third story extension to the right, providing additional living space and light

glazed london extension french doors

Doors from the garden lead into a family work area, perfect for children and adults alike, which is lit from above by glazed panels which form the floor of Claire’s workspace above

glazed london extension roof workspace

The glass floor and ceiling lend a light and airy feel to Claire’s work room. Recessed tracks in the floor allow her workstation, designed by husband Antonius, to move from side to side. The original bathroom sash window adds character to the space

glazed london extension living room

The formal living room features plenty of original features, such as the cornice and ceiling rose, stripped marble fireplace, floorboards and window shutters

glazed london extension minimal bathroom

The family bathroom features twin basins and a walk-in shower, along with a bath, in keeping with the Wubbens’ brief for a home for all the family — traditional touches such as the column radiator sit well alongside the contemporary sanitaryware

glazed london extension yellow bedroom

Original sash windows and floorboards ensure that the interior of the house maintains the character and charm befitting the period in which it was built

glazed london extension front exterior

The front façade of the semi-detached house remains unchanged. A wall separating it from the school next door was raised to provide privacy for the two storey extension

glazed london extension dining area

The contemporary kitchen – one of Antonius’ furniture designs – doors were chosen over bi-folds due to being sleek and contemporary. The kitchen also features the original staircase, which has been stripped back and now features a glazed balustrade. The informal living space which adjoins the new kitchen diner features a woodburning stove to add a homely feel

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 percent 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

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