Gus Alexander Architects


Ellesmere Road

At about the same time the owner of the upper part of this house had decided that it was time she had somewhere with a garden, the occupants of the basement flat announced that they wanted to move, and would she like first refusal? The two parties came to an agreement, whereby the guys could continue to live downstairs whilst we applied for consent, and set about the process of reinstating the two flats as a private house.

We decided to open up the basement floor in its entirety, and to enclose and top-light what had been the side passage. Most of the work could be done whilst the upstairs was occupied. We made the lower floor less 'basementy' by digging out the full width of garden three metres behind the living room and reconstituting the garden on two separate levels. We fitted the lower level with built-in seating, a permanent dining table and a set of winding steps, all made from slate, to connect the levels and used fair-faced brickwork to combine the inside and outside.

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A small hedge at the edge of the upper level prevents overlooking from the flats behind.

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The kitchen fittings, and half the (slightly-dented) equipment suddenly appeared in an "everything must go by Saturday" sale, and arrived the following week. By forming an enclosure on one side and making matching doors on the other, with a purpose made island with hanging storage over in the middle, the various disparate elements all fit together very naturally.

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The staircase which re-united the basement and the rest of the house needed to be 150mm wider than the tiny cramped one which had been taken out twentyfive years previously, and so we reconfigured the rooms upstairs to allow a wider hall, a study, and a place to hang bicycles. We made an informal kennel under the winders, and a larder under the staircase itself.

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Wherever possible supporting steels are camouflages into items for storage or display.

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The former kitchen on the ground floor was reconfigured as a utility room/shower.

A canopy containing a secret gutter provides privacy and allows rainwater to be collected via a garden store into an oak butt.

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