02 Apr 2015

A glass act


A Victorian terrace has undergone a challenging transformation thanks to a collaboration between architecture studio UV Architects and technology expert Inspired Dwellings.


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The owners of a family home between the commons in Wandsworth, London, were looking to completely renovate and create a fully connected home. They wanted more entertainment space and better provision of children’s areas within a contemporary scheme that didn’t lose the traditional Victorian features prominent in the period property. The family approached UV Architects with this ambitious brief that included creating an additional bedroom, larger kitchen, cinema room and large utility room.

The 1870 built house had stood unchanged for over 40 years. Achieving planning permission on a prominent corner site within a conservation area was a challenge that took considerable time. Another difficulty was that the top floor needed significant rebuilding and the small garden did not leave much space for the construction.

Will McGuinness, Director at UV Architects, comments: “We worked as both the architects and project managers. The family approached us because we have worked on similar projects in the past and have worked within this particular local authority, so had a good understanding of the project’s inner-city restrictions.

“We worked closely with the family during the product specification process and remained pretty much to budget. We had advised the family to keep a contingency for the basement dig, but this was not needed so the extra money was spent on high-spec fixtures and fittings.”

Pioneering technologies
The family also had a technology wish list and allocated a realistic budget to achieve an intuitive and integrated home. Electrical expert Inspired Dwellings planned technology by adapting and working with the owner’s wish list. Its approach was to suggest alternative suppliers and technologies, as well as ensure good practice throughout the home by providing each room with integrated data points. This meant money was saved by not extending to the spare rooms, but a canvas was created for the future. A RAKO custom lighting control system was specified and installed to deliver the architectural vision of different levels of light across walls and ceilings.

Rob Sutherland, Managing Director of Inspired Dwellings explains: “The ground rules for technology in homes have most definitely changed. Communication habits are shaped by a generation of smartphone and tablet device users who just expect the simplicity of these devices to allow them to cram more convenience and comfort into their daily lives. When it comes to installing, the plug and play options may seem appealing, but realistically there are many trickier elements to consider, such as getting the sound right in media rooms and making sure the internet connection is exceptional. All these must be considered first as the basis for any investment.

“Smart home technology is all about making all that is available work for the space; it is important to ensure that home-owners have the right levels of information and guidance for the right approach for each home.”

This property has since won a Control 4 award for best whole home integration over £60,000.

Will adds: “There can be a perception amongst architects that home technology will blow the budget, but I think we’ve proved it is possible to work realistically and deliver a strong result. In the past we used to suggest home technologies as an extra and not worry too much if someone didn’t go for it, largely because it wouldn’t have made that much difference to the design. Now people rely on technology so rightly they demand and expect smart home technology. It is important to be able to offer the right advice. This project shows how well planned and designed technology is an integral part of the comfort, design, lighting, heating we work hard to create – and it needs to be there from the beginning.”

Ground-breaking restructure
It can be tricky to include renewable technologies within inner-city projects such as this. A Victorian terrace is virtually impossible to control passively. However, the new areas of the build are constructed with a high degree of insulation. The building management control also runs the heating very efficiently and new high efficiency boilers and water heaters have been incorporated.

The team at UV Architects ended up extending the house by almost 100m² through excavating a basement and also converting the loft. The big design idea revolved around a previously hidden view from a tiny original skylight in the loft. Planning was secured for a bold and modern roof extension; a fully glazed top floor bedroom suite offering views of the full London skyline.

Downstairs minimally framed full height sliding doors create a fluid link through to the garden. A planned basement level was designed to house a cinema room, a wine store and utility room to hide away all the wiring and kit.

Striking results
Will continues: “The project took six months to design and a year on site, which was what we had anticipated at the beginning of the project. We stripped the property during the design phase which saved a lot of time and allowed us to thoroughly understand and incorporate the required renovation work into the main contract.

"Standing in the new fully glazed top floor bedroom suite you witness the full stunning Central London skyline rolling away into the horizon. We opened up the whole ground floor and extended to the rear and side. Excavating to form a basement level afforded space for a cinema room, wine store and utility room.

“Looking back, there’s not a thing I think we should have done differently. My favourite aspect is definitely the loft conversion, which gives outstanding views over London. My advice to anyone looking to renovate a terraced property is to spend the time planning the project properly before you begin construction – this is vital for any project.”

Smart specification

• Stable internet through a Draytek Vigor and Cisco booster boxes
• RAKO custom controlled lighting system
• 7.2 Bowers and Wilkins surround home cinema with a JVC projector mounted in motorise lift with automated drop down screen. 3D and HD ready, with wall mounted flat screen TV for viewing with Apple TV to stream music, photos, film in full high definition; linked to SKY box. Data and television points throughout the home
• Control 4 touchscreen home control system to control music, television, lighting, blinds, heating and door entry
• Discretely assembled Mid Atlantic rack, lighting and panel sits in the utility area

Further information....

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