Cranleigh Gardens

Architect: Ashton Porter Architects
Location: Enfield, London
Completion: 2013

The initial brief for this project - remove some internal walls, create a small extension and a simple separate writing hut - seemed relatively straightforward but the architectural aspirations devised to deliver this meant the final structural solution was far from off the shelf.

Visually the key features of this project are the expressed floating timber facade to the extended rear elevation of the main house and its aesthetically reciprocal writing hut at the opposite end of the garden.

Ostensibly, the expressed rear facade appears to be just that - a simple, timber facade - but a second look reveals that it is actually a separate, external element, with an integral garden seat. Closer inspection still reveals that the niggling sense of something missing is due to its complete lack of vertical support, meaning the whole rear facade gives the impression of floating.

The opening for this incorporated seat is mirrored exactly in size, position and finishes in the writing hut at the other end of the garden. This alignment is a key element of the architectural concept as it allows both clients to work from home in very different spaces but to maintain a connection. In order to achieve this though, the opening in the hut intersected the natural structural support points and beam lines. This meant that a series of flat steel plates had to be incorporated into the hut structure to provide stability and to stiffen the wall and roof to accommodate the dominant openings.