Beech Avenue

Paul Archer Design, Hertfordshire, 2012


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  • Ground floor plan    
  • First floor plan    
  • Section    
  • Section    
  • Elevation    
  • Stair detail    

Lower ground floor extension projecting in to the garden as an open ended box. Framing the view of the valley below whilst creating separate routs over and through the new living spaces to the garden

In a small town, just north of London, this house sits on one side of a wooded valley. A river runs through the garden and you can only reach the end of the garden over a small footbridge. The house is built on higher ground at the top of the steep slope to stay well clear of the river. You enter the front of the a whole storey higher than the garden at the back. The original house simply ignored the level change and had no direct connection to the garden.

What did work well was that the kitchen space that runs across the back of the house was at high level with a good view out into the valley. Hence, we decided not to change the kitchen, but to put some new family spaces at the lower garden level. The new garden room was conceived as an open ended box, with the missing wall creating a super-sized picture window to the greenery of the valley.

The boundary wall tapers in on plan following the line of the original hedge - and this helps focus the space on the picture window - creating a false perspective. An original cherry tree was maintained just in front (but just to one side)of the new window which gives a very strong sense of depth to the view - i.e making a strong contrast of the foreground and background. This should be magical when the tree is in blossom.

The kitchen is given two routes down to garden level. One via the roof and externally down a timber clad staircase that forms an important part of the architectural composition with its strong diagonal. The second route is a new internal stairwell with its own new rooflight. These two stairs are then linked by a door below the external stair so you can create a loop of circulation inside and out.


  • Begun: Mar 2012
  • Completed: Oct 2012
  • Floor area: 90m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £115,000
  • Tender date: Aug 2009
  • Procurement: JCT Minor Works Building Contract with contractor's design 2011
  • Address: 11 Beech Avenue, Radlett, Hertfordshire, WD7 7DD, United Kingdom

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