Huntingdon Street is now home to one of the first contemporary houses to be built cheek by jowl with the popular Victorian architecture of Islington. It is an extraordinary story of an undistinguished, post-war house built for a Pentonville Prison officer, with basic living accommodation which has been transformed into a unique contemporary living space.
Two years ago Charles Humphries, director of HEAT Architects, applied for planning permission to transform the house with the addition of an extra storey and a dramatic new street façade in milk glass and zinc.
Despite support from planning officers and local residents, Charles faced a two-year struggle to obtain planning permission due to the resistance of conservationists at Islington Council, finally winning permission in a landmark appeal decision.
Despite a planning policy encouraging “architectural innovation and imaginative design solutions” most of the notable contemporary houses in Islington are hidden away in backland sites or next to railway lines. 52 Huntingdon Street is the first contemporary design to attempt to fit into the traditional Victorian street pattern and urban fabric.
As the scheme won planning permission at appeal, the design is not altered or compromised from the original vision. It reacts thoughtfully to the context and resolves many of the issues of a dense urban site in a beautiful and sensitive way.
What makes the exterior so special?
The transformation by HEAT was in two stages, the first stage was to open up the ground floor living space with the addition of a kitchen extension with a vaulted zinc roof and a glass wall facing onto an immaculate courtyard garden. The framing for the glass is in raw galvanized steel.
The second stage was for HEAT to remove the entire roof and front wall, which was built up and out towards the street, creating a large master bedroom with a sliding wall of glass onto a southfacing roof terrace with views over Barnsbury. The additional storey is steel framed and clad in high performance insulation with a pure white render.
The windows are steel W20 with high performance glass and a tough galvanized finish which has been powder coated. (See more examples of galvanized windows)
At the front the street façade is clad in beautiful patinated zinc that picks up the render-bands on local houses and is separated from the original house by a glazed slot. The floor-to-ceiling windows are in high-performance milk glass, which allows changing patterns of light into the interior throughout the day. The structural frame is expressed in exposed galvanized steel channels which pick up the colour of the zinc panels.
What make the interior so environmentally friendly?
It is not just in appearance that this building is on the forefront of modern design; everything about the property is “cutting edge”, with a focus on reducing the carbon footprint of the house.
HEAT has achieved this through an intelligent heating system that learns how the building reacts and adjusts itself accordingly. Along with this, there are solar powered water heaters and a whole house ventilation system running throughout the property, which recovers energy that would otherwise be lost.
Industrial finned tube radiators were designed for the interior with custom-made brackets all in exposed raw galvanized finish.
Wherever possible the materials used were recycled and the wood was sourced from sustainable sources. High performance insulation was used in a warm-structure design that retains heat and keeps an even and comfortable temperature inside the house.
Images © Kilian O’Sullivan of Light Room
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