Gus Alexander Architects


The owners had bought this handsome semi-detached Listed building in Islington twelve years previously. Now that they had found themselves with three children they decided it was probably about time they got round to doing all those things (like reroofing it, and replacing the 1950’s plumbing and electrical installation) that they had always meant to do before the house caught fire and collapsed around their ears.

We relocated the bottom flight of stairs so that we could open up the whole basement, and with the help of six strong men and 80 skips, excavated enough of the garden to allow us to add on a decent-sized family room with lots of glazing.

With military precision our client moved her family into temporary accommodation the Friday before Listed Building consent was granted, and the guys began the stripping out on the Monday. The oak herringbone floor that they’d originally hoped for had been vetoed as it cost the same as two months temporary accommodation. However, progress was good, and my clients told the builder that if he could let them have their house back two months earlier than anticipated they’d be prepared to put up with temporary (plywood) kitchen worktops for a few weeks, if it meant they could afford a decent floor.

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The winding stair to the kitchen has been fabricated in steel. This takes up less space and allows delicate balusters to be welded to the slender string. The armature is clad in painted plaster and fitted with oak treads.

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New glazing where the extension abuts the original house. Small enough not to be too gloomy at night.

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Garden excavated and retaining wall formed to accommodate new family room extension.

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New shallow steps to garden in honed York stone. This is more expensive than the Indian stone in the garden itself. This is because the nosings that project on the treads are more vulnerable than the stone laid flat, so the York stone needs to be thicker.