Brooke Coombes Self-Build House

Burd Haward Architects, London, 2001


Subscribe now to instantly view this image

Subscribe to the Architects’ Journal (AJ) for instant access to the AJ Buildings Library, an online database of nearly 2,000 exemplar buildings in photographs, plans, elevations and details.

Already a subscriber? Sign in

The house in its suburban context 

Charlotte Wood (website)     Download Original

  • The house in its suburban context    
  • Compact accommodation allows room for a glazed courtyard    
  • Clay tile cladding detail    
  • The pool was a late addition instigated by the client    
  • The journey to bed involves a journey into semi-outdoor space    
  • View of the ground floor kitchen/dining/living room    
  • The steel mesh stair and mezzanine ensure that the conservatory is read as a single space    
  • The first floor corridor    
  • The architect has established a fixed storage zone which can be extended as necessary    
  • The partition walls can be removed as circumstances change    
  • Site plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Long section    
  • Environment    
  • Steel frame    
  • Timber sheathing encloses steel frame    
  • Clay-tile cladding fixed to timber sheathing    
  • The client    
  • Self-build takes advantage of all available labour    
  • The house is at the bottom of the garden of the clients    
  • Steel box sections support the conservatory glazing and provide stability to the flank wall    
  • The potting shed doubled as a site hut    
  • After the rain    
  • Detail section through roof eaves and wall    
  • Key section and eaves details    

Self-build low energy house in a conservation area in Ealing, using many key elements of the Segal Method

The house is set out on a grid and arranged according to a straightforward diagram: the accommodation is on one side of the site, and is as compact as possible, leaving room for a glazed courtyard on the other.

The two-storey, enclosed side of the house contains an open-plan kitchen/dining/living room and a study on the ground floor, and bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs. It is surrounded by thick walls to the north, east and west. The courtyard is flanked by a glazed wall to the house on one side, and a brick ‘garden wall’ to the other. It contains the staircase and a small mezzanine sitting area – both of which are galvanised steel.

The process of simplification also applies to the structural approach – the ground conditions made piles preferable to slab foundations, which suited a steel frame.

The steel frame is spanned by Masonite timber studs, enclosed in timber sheathing. This, in turn, is ‘wrapped’ with a clay-tile cladding system which is both easy to install and precise – the client was determined to avoid the ‘folksiness’ often associated with self-build.


  • Begun: Sep 1999
  • Completed: 2001
  • Floor area: 203m2
  • Sectors: Residential, House
  • Total cost: £310,874
  • Tender date: Aug 1999
  • Procurement: Self-build with package procurement of specialist elements
  • Address: Ealing, London, W5, United Kingdom

Professional Team