Doctor’s Close

Adding height and light to a flat-roofed bungalow

This project transformed a sprawling bungalow to accommodate both a growing family and an office-based business. The building had an interesting story, starting life as a nineteenth-century, single-storey, brick apple store in an orchard; this then became a small farm worker’s cottage; in the 1960s an architect couple built a bungalow for themselves alongside, and by the 1970s the previous owners had joined the two buildings into a single dwelling. Our task was to provide additional accommodation and add a further chapter that would make sense of and extend this already rich narrative of change.

Rear elevation of an extended and improved 1970s bungalow in Histon Cambridge
Light and airy landing in a refurbished 1960s bungalow extension

"Rooflights flood the space with light, and the space is animated by the play of sunlight all through the day."

The 1960s bungalow had a strong horizontal emphasis, with timber ceilings throughout; against this we introduced a vertical counterpoint of height and light. This is most obvious where the timber ceiling was removed to create a double height hallway, with rooflights flooding the space with light, and animated by the play of sunlight across the space all through the day. There are other plays of light, such as the use of glass in the risers of the stair to light the WC beneath, and the patterned glass of the front door which, with the sun shining, casts an elegant ‘3’ across the interior. Storage for books, and the display of objects has seamlessly been incorporated into the walls, and a glass bridge provides access across the hall to the first floor study; this is perhaps the quirkiest room with a generous sliding corner window, a reading turret and a sleeping pod.

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This has always been a house in its landscape, and the external spaces have been conceived as external rooms in dialogue with the interior, with use made of sliding folding doors to blur the threshold between inside and outside. The entrance courtyard at the front, demarcated by box hedging and focused on a specimen Sorbus tree, came into its own as a space for socially distanced conversation.

In much the same way as a Victorian bay window is a nice place to sit and watch the world, so opportunities have been taken to make the most of liminal spaces; thus, the generous window cill of the play room is a place to sit, a stage during children’s parties and a favourite place for the family dog to lie in the sun. The resulting house meets its functional requirements, with its flexible division between home and work accommodation; but more than that, it is a joyful house that both sustains family life and in which it is easy to entertain others.

Archangel Architects Cambridge dog on a glazed bridge in a house extension

"It is a joyful house that both sustains family life and in which it is easy to entertain others."

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