Denizen Works, London, 2016


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  • Valhalla Existing East Elevation    
  • Valhalla Existing Section AA    
  • Valhalla Proposed 2F and 3F Plans    
  • Valhalla Proposed East Elevation    
  • Valhalla Proposed GF and FF Plans    
  • Valhalla Proposed Section AA    
  • Detail plan    

A 320mm deep addition that has transformed the facade of a tired modernist house in Highgate

Following a competitive interview in 2015, Denizen Works were selected to renovate the tired-looking façade of a modernist house in Highgate.

In such esteemed company, a striking proposal was required: one that reflected the urban context and transformed the appearance of the home - all within a depth of 320mm.

The inspiration drew from the macabre, and the clients’ fascination with this theme. In the presence of Highgate Cemetery, the house is christened ‘Valhalla’, and displays topiary tombstones on its roof terrace.

While the mirrored façade of the neighbouring property celebrates the living trees of Waterlow Park, this scheme uses ‘traumatised’ wood, where the act of charring has made it as dead as possible.

Echoing the vertical rhythm of the trees, the new elevation is composed of a series of English Larch glulam fins, attached to the façade using bespoke galvanised ‘top-hat’ brackets, developed with the engineer. Individually charred, each timber fin bears the nuances of a hand-crafted surface, crackled like crocodile skin.

The new façade unifies the stepped elevation to a single plane, using two different depths of fin. Viewed obliquely, it appears as one level surface. Moving past, the ghost of the original profile is revealed.

Through close collaboration between contractors and designer during the design phase, initial material quotation was halved. The original windows were upcycled by painting their frames, and adding new cills and headers.


  • Begun: Feb 2016
  • Completed: Mar 2016
  • Floor area: 1m2
  • Sector: House
  • Total cost: £34,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Tender date: Nov 2015
  • Procurement: JCT Homeowner's Contract
  • Address: -, London, United Kingdom

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