May 10, 2019 / Architecture
Repoussoir by Con Form Architects

Repoussoir is a minimalist extension located in London, United Kingdom, designed by Con Form Architects. The terraced London house with rear outrigger is a familiar typology. Often viewed as unremarkable, these iterative brick elements form a distinct architectural character, acting as an important context in the lives of many Londoners. This project involves an intervention within such a setting; including a ground floor rear / side extension, internal reconfiguration and a lowered garden / garden room. A deferential approach to context was adopted early in the project, with a desire to avoid repeating an existing large roof extension to the property that dominates the roofscape; in turn dominating the original typology.

This project is inherently subservient and respectful of the existing structure, particularly the brick outrigger. Rear external walls and internal partitions to the ground floor were removed, dissolving the threshold between inside and outside. This creates one large open plan space that is both internal and external, house and garden. To maintain this connection, a unique structural solution of interconnecting, pared back perpendicular steel frames were introduced, with infill frameless roof glazing and glazed aluminum bi-fold doors forming the primary building envelope; maximizing light into this north facing rear space. These frames are a device that helps delineate the open plan space and further dissolve the external threshold.

The solidity and permanence of the original brick outrigger is further enhanced with a brick soffit finish to the rear living space. A simple brick perimeter wall and horizontal roof form a rear outbuilding, with glazed aluminum bi-fold doors allowing the space to be used as a further habitable space. The steel frames are considered devices through which the external spaces and historic context are perceived, and through which daylight filters into the space. The innate structural tension therefore contrasts with and acts as a foil or repoussoir to the existing building, enhancing its compressive, monolithic nature. The resultant home is a remarkable series of living spaces, totally unexpected behind the otherwise polite and unremarkable Victorian street façade.