The Copper House is a copper-clad extension of a mid-terrace house in the Mill Road conservation area of Cambridge. Designed by Butcher Bayley Architects (BBA), it brings together bold, colourful design, textures and materials – to reflect a young, modern family.
While the home had enough bedrooms, the downstairs had always felt too small with too many doors and wasted spaces, alongside a very small kitchen. The core goal of the project was to create more space for the family to grow into and make their own – enjoyable spaces for entertaining young children or family and friends. BBA held on to this goal throughout the project.
Space, light and a stand-out feature
To create the space desired, new roof lights were positioned to provide waves of natural light during the day. A window seat makes the perfect spot to relax, while above, the building’s planted roof provides a view of greenery from the house’s upper floors. Finally, a floating oak-clad bench is incorporated into the outer build and a ventilation panel allows fresh air to flow through the house during the warmer months.
The stand-out feature, however, is the unique copper-cladding on the extension. The clients noted their love of a nearby University building in Cambridge, and BBA brought this material traditionally used in public buildings into a small, residential property; creating a big visual impact in the process.
Conscious design for conservation
Generally, in conservation areas, developments must either blend in – or be contemporary and of quality. Copper House ticks the latter – but care was taken to ensure that the extension didn’t overbear neighbours or steal their natural light.
This care extends to the finer details of the project itself where, for example, handmade terracotta tiles from Italy are employed as a touchstone for the client’s Italian childhood – and BBA even received the seal of approval from her mother on a visit from Italy.
The result of the project is a modern home that has style, but not without substance – it is a home to be lived in.
“BBA’s help was extremely important to inspect the building of the extension, as we were not in the house; but they also acted as an intermediary between us and the contractor. Looking back, if we didn’t have BBA, it would have been a real struggle – their expertise and commitment was invaluable. We are very pleased with the outcome. We are enjoying the space, the light, the newly found connection to the garden – and the large picture window. Especially in these difficult times, we have enjoyed the access to the outside patio and garden and, in general, the improved flow of the house.”