- Original design
- Chris Lepine, 2018
The 2018 programme is now past. We will be launching the 2019 programme mid-August.
Working within the bounds of the Victorian Terrace house, Lépine Residence is comprehensively transformed into a modern dwelling. Every area of the house was intensively studied then optimized for daylight penetration, spatial flow, layout efficiency, storage integration and practical requirements. The modern design confronts the inherent restrictions of the original property, including small rooms, awkward circulation, dampness, and low internal daylight levels.
A strategy of clearly defined boundaries between new and old was adopted. The design is explicit where the existing architecture is cut away and new architecture inserted, yet retains critical elements to preserve the charm of the Victorian era terrace house. The contrasting architectural incisions highlight the different eras and frame original features such as the fireplace and stair.
The desire for continuous spatial flow, horizontally and vertically, required a carefully designed structure. Structural elements are integrated into the walls and ceiling to provide uninterrupted surfaces and continuous spaces, especially at the ground floor.
A primary objective was the conversion of the ground floor into a space connecting all areas, flowing from living room to kitchen to exterior patio. Where small rooms and narrow hallways once dominated, the ground floor is now one continuous space. When fully open, interior and exterior areas merge below the suspended house volume, yet sliding partitions still provide the flexibility to subdivide spaces as desired.
The typical terrace house renovation extends the kitchen sideways. It was tempting to follow the established template; however, this often divides the ground floor into a front and rear area, creating a deep pocket of space that does not enjoy the same levels of natural light and hence frequency of use. Additionally, the side patio here is a precious area that receives several hours of direct sunlight through the late afternoon.
To remain true to the design objectives and to make best use of the limited outdoor L shaped patio, the kitchen extends lengthwise, covering a small distance until abutting the rear neighbour’s wall. The elongated space provides for a generous kitchen and dining area, while every area of the ground floor is naturally illuminated and immediately accessible to the exterior.
A dark aluminium frame accentuates the portions of walls sliced away from the building’s rear exterior. It is a clear datum separating the original structure above from the modern insertion below. This feature element binds several key components of the conversion into a unified composition; the expansive sliding glass doors, the charred wooden louvre screen, the glass roof, and, internally, the kitchen peninsula and oven units. The brick wall at the far end of the extension is built using original bricks removed as part of the demolition works. The texture and warmth of the material, especially when washed with natural daylight, is a prominent interior feature that appears to have been simply pushed back from under the house into its new position.
The bedrooms have been extensively refurbished. The Master Bedroom benefits from new bespoke wardrobes, space saving sliding partitions, and a newly refitted en-suite. The en-suite is proportionately slender yet feels ample and elegant. Fittings were specially selected to suit the space, and a bespoke storage unit creates a display shelf while concealing the cistern, plumbing and electrical risers. A chimney breast was removed from the middle bedroom and the entry door shifted so that the room is better proportioned, more spacious and can be more effectively planned.
Of all the bedrooms, the rearmost bedroom is the one that has been most completely transformed. Previously a low ceilinged, unassuming, small single bedroom, it is now an exciting double height space with extended area. The family bathroom was consolidated and the rear chimney breast was removed so that the space could be enlarged and freely planned. In lieu of the dropped horizontal ceiling, the ceiling now runs along the underside of the roof pitch and a skylight has been added. Soaring height and copious daylight give this bedroom an impressive character. Additionally, as a planning requirement, the exterior portion of the rear chimney needed to remain. When looking through the skylight, one can see the chimney intriguingly hovering above.
Similar to the rear bedroom, the ceiling of the family bathroom is the underside of the roof pitch incorporating a skylight. Though a small bathroom, all washroom facilities, including a washer & dryer cupboard, are carefully laid out so that the bathroom feels light and spacious. It is a delightful place to enjoy long showers or baths.
The original stair remains, framed by the modern intervention. The landing to the Level 01 hallway is reconfigured, though, into 4 winders, allowing for a more efficient layout, better spatial flow, and a flush ceiling below for the Ground Floor.
In contrast to the original stair, the new loft stair is a powerful geometric form that complements and frames the original rather than clashing or competing. The loft stair is seemingly suspended in the hallway below the light well created by the dormer. It sits like a sculptural object inspired by the inherent geometry of a spiralling stair. It is as much sculpture within the space as it is practical means to vertically traverse floor levels.
The loft is converted into a study / spare bedroom. Located within a conservation area, external modifications were limited. A pair of skylights was added to the main street elevation, and a pair of dormers was added to the opposite side. One dormer provides space for the feature stair, acting as a clerestory flooding the stair with daylight that penetrates the full height of the vertical space. The other dormer provides additional ceiling height. The use of a sliding partition at the loft’s entry and the careful positioning of the feature stair help the space feel open and flowing. The overall dormer and sloping ceiling configuration presents a perfect home office niche where storage shelves and a bespoke desk are placed. When seated at the desk, multiple seating orientations are available allowing the user flexibility of working while enjoying ample daylight and views out of the dormer window and skylights.