In just ten months, architect Charles Bettes, gpad london, took a tiny six by seven metre former garage site and turned it into a cosy two-bedroom home called Wittering House.
Wittering House is a stylish home built on a difficult infill site in Finsbury Park, North London. Contemporary in design, and providing a discreet intervention in a street of Victorian houses, the 829 sq. ft. two-bedroom home is a contextual and sympathetic response to its location.
Previously overlooked for its size, the site enabled Charles to break into the fiercely expensive central London housing market, while still giving him and his wife scope to live comfortably and elegantly.
The architecture had to be at once sympathetic to its location and individual in its identity. The site is surrounded by Victorian terraces, and the materials were carefully selected to fit with the very small-scale of the house as well as complement neighbouring buildings. The choices made delivered a contemporary design without overpowering the other buildings in its vicinity. Brick offered a robust solution at street level, which was complemented by brass cladding of the first floor.
The brief was all about creating a relaxing and calming haven that feels peaceful and stripped back. This guided decision-making from planning the layout through to selecting the finishes. Having a coherent material language flowing between the home’s spaces magnified the modest home’s spaciousness.
Given the small site size, careful space planning, thoughtful choice of materials and consideration of proportions were paramount to creating a comfortable layout. After all, it is the use of space not the number of rooms or size that makes a relaxing home.
Every choice had an impact on the final product; design decisions were driven by creating a space that maximised internal areas, whilst allowing enough light and air to enter the house so that it did not feel cramped. This was all achieved by keeping partition walls and circulation space to a minimum. Carefully considering every inch, the space under the stairs was utilised, space between rooms is narrow and built-in wardrobes were installed in the upstairs bedroom and the living room.
Instead of being enclosed, the staircase uses oak slats, which opens up the living area, creates visual interest and helps light from the large roof window flow to the ground level. The living room doors, which lead into the courtyard, open to expand the space outwards and bring the outside in.
The house is made to feel larger through clever use of dual aspect rooms, large doors and windows as well as ‘layering rooms’ to give spatial flow. As a result, every position provides views into another space or out of a window, and the whole of the ground and first floor is filled with natural light from a variety of directions.
Interior materials were chosen for their subtlety, human scale and low maintenance. These include white-washed oak, grey brick and a light resin floor that helps to reflect natural light and give the illusion of a bigger home. The space is unified using a joint-free resin floor, creating a flow between kitchen, dining and living area. The chosen materials complement the exterior as well as form a backdrop for other textures and colours, from personal trinkets through to curtains, and furniture for a subtle, quality final product.
A herringbone floor on the upper level matches with the muted off-white and grey palette providing warmth. The en-suite bathroom features marble and white washed oak, which provides a rich colour and backdrop for the black brassware and creates a sense of quality and richness while remaining understated.
Whilst design and materiality were key to the design, so too was its environmental impact and this small development achieves a lot, with PV panels, high levels of insulations, above average daylight factors and a BEPC rating.
While the site is tiny and the house is not large, the innovative layout along with the layering of spaces ensures the interior areas feel spacious, successfully illustrating that with a thoughtful, well-considered approach to a site, good quality living spaces can be produced from not a lot of space.
Wittering House, Adolphus Road, went on to scoop the top prize, the Grand Prix Trophy, at the Evening standard New Home Awards 2018.
Architect Charles Bettes at gpad London ltd
Structural Engineer MNP
Main Contractor and Groundworks MD Construction
Bricks – Modular Clay Products
Cladding – Aurubis
Structural glazing –Culmax
External doors and Windows- AluK
Internal doors and joinery – ASWW Joinery
Internal door handles – SDS London
Pocket Door – Eclisse
Wall and ceiling paint – Dulux
Kitchen work surface – Corian
Kitchen appliances – Neff
Downlights – Spurlite
Mini lighting pendants – Stilist
Large pendant – Bloomingville
Bathrooms – Graff , VitrA, AWSS and Leoni free-standing bath
Floors – Havwoods
Tiles – Roma Marble
Sofa – Made.com
Eames armchair – Chase & Sorensen