How a small extension makes a big difference to life and a living space

A small extension had a massive impact: it gave the owners a new dimension to their home

Oxford Terrace, Edinburgh

You hear a lot about potential from estate agents and property developers, but not everyone has the power to spot it, never mind unlock it. One man who does is Tim Beecher, an architect who set up his own practice in Edinburgh a decade ago. His latest project, an extension to a listed building in the heart of the city, has created new and exciting possibilities for the clients – no mean feat for what is essentially a small zinc-and-glass box. “It’s a tiny wee extension – the footprint is only around 17 to 18 square metres,” says Tim. “Its success lies in the way that it has opened up the existing rooms, allowing them to become more dynamic and useful spaces in terms of light and views.”

The project began when the owners, who’ve lived in the ground-floor flat for seven years, felt it was time to look at creating a better connection to their little garden. “They got in touch to discuss how they could improve the back of their house. There’s a little sliver of south-west-facing garden, a beautifully looked-after space with a lovely magnolia tree on the patio, but there was a conservatory blocking any real connection to it,” he recalls.

“I was keen for the simplest design to unlock the most potential from all the different rooms”

“After talking through their aspirations, we came around to the idea of celebrating the garden. We also talked about how to create a more generous kitchen and dining space that would connect to the garden and how to bring light into the core of the house, if possible.

“I went away and came back with strategies to tease out their priorities. I was keen for the simplest design to unlock the most potential from all the different rooms, to give a sense of openness. The owners had been going from one small space to another, so I tried to open this up to flow more freely.”

Floorplan

Floorplan

As the building is listed, there were additional criteria to meet. “We had discussions with planners and the listed-building consent officers and were advised to make some alterations such as reducing the footprint slightly,” says Tim. “The changes did effectively make an overall improve­ment, leading to the creation of more space outside the sliding doors. This also allowed us to make the garden stairs more generous.”

One of the other key recommendations made by planners was instrumental in shaping the final design of the extension. “The use of zinc cladding was specified as a requirement,” says the architect. “It has a traditional patina, a soft grey colour, that’s seen as being more in keeping with traditional lead finishes, and it also sits nicely against the stonework. I would have recom­mended zinc from the outset, but it’s an expensive option.”

DETAILS

What An extension
Where Edinburgh
Architect Tim Beecher
Photography Chris Humphreys
Words Caroline Ednie