McLaren Excell transforms a Victorian house into a modern living space


McLaren Excell transforms a Victorian house into a modern and refined living space

Petersfield House by McLaren Excell Architects reinvents a Victorian home in Cambridge into a contemporary, minimalist haven

Transforming and modernizing existing housing into buildings adapted to contemporary life and current environmental requirements is a challenge taken up by any architect. The UK’s vast stock of vernacular housing is generally easily identifiable in its era – Georgian, Victorian, Edwardian – with each era providing a surprisingly versatile canvas on which to restore, improve and extend to create modern living space.

The extension, restoration and modernization of this Cambridge home by McLaren Excell draws on the studio’s experience of working with historic buildings. The London-based studio, founded by Rob Excell and Luke McLaren in 2011, was featured in our 2018 Architects Directory.

Previous projects have harmonized the old with the new, with a clean minimalist architectural approach to creating new spaces, using a sparse material palette, meticulous detailing and a respect for proportion, light and highlighting of building details.

Petersfield House had already undergone alterations, although this earlier work only served to create a rather dense and dark interior plan which did not make the most of the beautiful proportions and original exterior spaces of the house. home.

The core of the house was therefore radically redesigned, with a new stairwell that connected the front and rear on the ground floor and provided a spacious landing on the upper floor.

Unlike some of the studio’s earlier projects, there were hardly any original decorative elements to retain, so elements such as doors and plinths were stripped to nothing, with a shadow detail separating the floor into wood, the plaster and brick walls and the concrete ceilings above.

New bespoke joinery creates unity between the kitchen, staircase and storage, while door openings have been taken to ceiling height to improve the sense of circulation between the spaces.

The staircase is understatedly elegant, with its vertical steel spindles and oak-veneered risers. It is associated with custom-made luminaires, designed by the firm, which descend the full height of the new stairwell.

The modern side extension has been completely demolished and rebuilt, and the floor level has been hollowed out to give the new kitchen a more spacious feel. Skylights flank the floating concrete ceiling, and a large frameless window offers sweeping views of the garden.

The masonry of the front facade of the new extension has subtle fluting which refers to the original chimneys. The interior of the extension also has a more utilitarian feel with exposed brickwork and ceiling joists.

An original fireplace is retained in the dining room, making a strong juxtaposition with the new fireplace in the minimal living room.

The overall vibe is that of a quiet, calm and unexpected space. §


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