Who says extensions must always be hidden away at the back? This Edwardian villa has grown outwards from the side, gaining spectacular views of the Forth Bridge in the process.
“It’s a common misconception that extensions should only go on the back of the house,” says David Jamieson of Edinburgh-based Zone Architects. “Why not the side? Very often the space there isn’t doing an awful lot. In the case of this Edwardian villa, built to take advantage of a wonderful panorama over the Firth of Forth, if we had stuck the extension on the back we would have blocked the view from some of the living spaces. Adding to the side of the building meant that all the main spaces, old and new, would capture that amazing view.”
The starting point of this South Queensferry refurbishment project was the owners’ realisation, over the course of their first year or so living here, that the house sorely lacked a big family kitchen with an outdoor area. It also became apparent that the hillside villa would benefit from more natural light and a better flow through the house to the garden.
“Like many from the same period, this house suffered from poor kitchen and service facilities and no connection to its garden,” says David. “Our response was to create a spectacular new room to the side of the house, which we skewed to align with the Forth Bridge, accommodating a new kitchen, utility space and garage. A new terrace anchors the house to its garden and provides improved outdoor living space, and on the lower ﬂoor there is a new self-contained living area and en-suite bedroom which has a direct relationship with the garden.” The double garage, which replaces an untidy timber shed, was the final piece of the jigsaw.
The ten-month build process, which involved the demolition of an existing garage and the creation of an additional 100 square metres of living accommodation, was, according to the architects, pretty straightforward both in terms of planning and construction. The family had intended to move out for a couple of months during this period, but in the event, when the main sewer was accidentally cracked by the demolition vehicles which were brought in to clear the site, this turned into six months. Still, this appears to have been the only real blip.
And what finally emerged more than lived up to the owners’ hopes and aspirations. “In design terms, what we wanted to do was create a very simple glazed extension,” continues the architect. “It’s essentially a straightforward timber-framed box that we’ve pulled out at an angle to align with the views. We’ve also played with the roof structure as a subtle nod to the Forth Bridge – that’s where the zigzagging wood idea came from. This roof structure, made from douglas fir, was probably the most difficult part of the whole build as there is a lot of hidden engineering in it, which was tricky. But we had excellent builders in Murdoch Smith of Stenhousemuir.
“It was important to embed the house in its context, which doesn’t mean a pastiche or copying the original architecture. We were upfront about making it a simple contemporary building and of its time, sitting quietly in the background. I think that’s what you get with the glass and grey pre-weathered zinc cladding and the roof (which is punctuated by a series of strategically placed roof lights). It’s deferential to the main house in that we haven’t obscured its frontage, which means you can read the different layers of history in the building. I think that’s important with any extension – to make sure it’s not competing.”
This is just a taster, you can browse the full article with more stunning photography on pages 103-106, issue 89.