Large glass areas are all rave right now, and no doubt will go down in history as one of the defining architecture trends of our time. This self-build project in Wimbledon is a perfect example of the transformative powers of glass, with over £100,000 worth of windows, doors and glazed roof features coming together to create a bright and spacious luxury home.
When a couple in London decided to build their dream home, little did they know the perfect opportunity was waiting just around the corner. Having had a great fortune to come across an ideal plot of land in their preferred area of London, the couple did not hesitate to buy it and demolish the dated, old property that came with it in preparation for a more suitable alternative.
The architect, a well-respected London practice, had a simple brief: to create a contemporary three-bedroom home with plenty of glass features that will allow the inside of the property to visually merge with the outdoor space, and make the most out of the natural daylight.
With an elegant look, but keeping a fairly inconspicuous profile from the street, the Coach House is endlessly respectful of its surroundings. The sympathetic construction took the place of an old, inefficient and impractical building, finally maximising the real estate potential of this highly desired location.
At the rear, the property opens up into a minimalist garden with contemporary floor-to-ceiling windows and doors and double-height glazed units. The front also benefits from optimum levels of natural light thanks to large glazing, while internal shutters ensure full privacy is easily attained by the homeowner.
With glazing being such a fundamental part of the building, the project needed an experienced, reliable supplier, which Hale Brown Architects and contractor Amberley Construction found in DWL Windows, Doors & Conservatories, a Kent-based architectural glazing specialist.
“We loved the bold use of glass in the architect’s drawings and knew straight away it was a project for us,” says Dan Smith from DWL. The Coach House boasts seven different types of glazing products ranging from highly efficient aluminium casement windows and tilt and turns, to multiple slim frame lift and slide doors and a unique glazed roof system entirely developed by the manufacturer in-house.
All the units were specified in the popular Anthracite Grey colour, to match some of the key internal elements, such as the stringers of the freestanding staircase, creating harmony and unity in design.
Acting as the focal point of the property, the staircase is flooded with natural light thanks to the double-height glazed area at the rear of the house. “We have used ‘seamless glazing’, where glass units are joined together by structural silicone rather than an aluminium mullion, for minimal interference with the views. The glass ceiling above the stairs features our glazed roof system, taking the open space feel even further. It’s no wonder then that a simple trip upstairs can be a thought-cleansing experience,” says Dan.
Designed with very large apertures, the building incorporates huge elevations of glass on both floors. The architect specified extensive areas of frameless structural glazing, a highly-specialised assemble requiring very skilled craftsmanship to ensure all requirements are met, from the precise silicone application for a neat, perfect look, to weatherproofing and structural integrity. DWL delivered the installation under challenging site conditions, delivering the sought-after minimalistic look the client wanted, while ensuring the best possible energy performance.
Energy efficiency was high on the agenda for this new build in Wimbledon. The Coach House was specified with a mechanical ventilation with heat recovery (MVHR) system that required the construction to be perfectly airtight. With windows and sliding doors measuring 3m in height, it was crucial for the glass and frames to perform exceptionally.
DWL manufactured the bespoke contemporary glazing using one of the strongest and most energy-efficient aluminium systems available, from Schüco. Boasting some of the lowest level of thermal transmittance for windows and doors of this kind, of 1.4W/m²K, the glazing contributes hugely to the overall performance of the building.
Seamless glazing is a very attractive option, but fitting the units is a highly-skilled job that requires time and care. “Our seamless glazing achieves the sought-after minimalist design that is very much appreciated both by architects and self-build customers, but extra care needs to be taken when choosing the manufacturing and fitting company. The glass doesn’t only need to look incredibly neat, but also be structurally strong,” says Dan.
Large aluminium Schüco lift and slide doors to the bedrooms, lounge and dining room offer the same feeling of communion with the outdoors the owners wanted, regardless of which room they use.
To ensure the property didn’t overheat, at the rear of the property – where large areas of glazing overlook the south-facing garden – DWL used high-performance specialist glass to avoid issues such as solar gain and overheating.
All sealed units were manufactured with clear solar glass to guarantee unaltered views of the garden, while ensuring the property remained comfortable and practical for the occupier even through the brightest summer days. Special coatings on the glass minimise solar heat gain and control glare, enabling the owners of this modern Coach House to enjoy maximum levels of natural light with none of the downsides.
As with any project, especially one involving so many types, shapes and sizes of sophisticated glazing, so too this Wimbledon property had its challenges. Dan recalls: “Moving around and installing huge glazed units weighing 200kg is no easy task when confronted with muddy, uneven terrain – but this is when an experienced supplier stands head and shoulders above others, and we enjoyed the challenge. For the more difficult tasks, such as installing the heavy IGUs to the rear sliding doors, we used specialist glass lifting machinery.”
The homeowners are delighted with their beautiful new home, which no doubt will be enjoyed for many years to come. As well as being a very attractive building, the Coach House encompasses future-proofing features ensuring it remains comfortable, efficient and economical for a very long time.
This was the couple’s once in a lifetime project, as well as the biggest investment they have ever made, and they could not have been happier with the result. DWL worked closely with the architect and contractor to help turn the client’s vision into reality and the result is a stunning piece of architecture.
To conclude, Dan comments: “Glass nowadays is a form of expression for the self-builder, often taking centre stage in the decision process. Unique bespoke projects tend to utilise large glass walls as a main feature, especially if the setting justifies it.
“We find that glazing demand today is increasingly driven by aesthetics. Technological advancements over the past decade have made it possible for clients to relax when it comes to factors such as energy efficiency and insulation. Our role as architectural glazing specialists goes beyond manufacturing and installation – we ensure our clients’ windows and doors are not only strikingly beautiful, but also practical, sturdy and 100% fit for purpose.”
About DWL Windows, Doors & Conservatories
DWL specialises in manufacturing and installing bespoke aluminium windows and doors for any type of building design, from new build homes to refurbishment or replacement projects. It offers a wide range of products, including timber and high-end timber effect, ensuring each project benefits from an individual approach and a customised solution to match any requirements, whether these may be focused on aesthetics, energy-efficiency, budgetary or otherwise. The company operates from a state-of-the-art manufacturing facility in Kent and offers an integrated service, from supply and installation to survey, specification and project-based general consultation.