Markhouse Maisonette

Andrew Tam, London, 2017


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Dormer elevation - view from rear of house 

Dirk Lindner (website)     Download Original

  • Dormer elevation - view from rear of house    
  • Dormer interior and loft library wall - window seat with view of allotments and skyline    
  • Glimpse through to the stairwell from the loft room    
  • Daylight from a frameless glazed roof animates the stairwell with constantly changing hues    
  • The bold green wall links loft and first floors, while an under-stair cupboard is captured between balustrades    
  • First floor landing with bathroom at far end    
  • A shoe rack is nestled at the first landing to the flat proper, with a bedroom doorway adjacent    
  • View from the dining kitchen to the living area    
  • Living area with bay window seat, used also as a side table     
  • A larder area acts as transition from living to kitchen and dining spaces, with dark stained plywood units wrapping around to form another window seat    
  • Like everywhere in the apartment, kitchen joinery is made entirely of birch plywood    
  • A plywood wall neatly houses various bathroom elements, while shutters avoid the need for frosted glass to the street-facing window    
  • Site plan    
  • Existing and proposed first floor plans    
  • Existing and proposed loft floor plans    
  • Existing Section AA    
  • Proposed Section AA    
  • Existing Section BB    
  • Proposed Section BB    
  • Front and rear elevations    
  • Existing stairwell    
  • Existing kitchen - now Bedroom 1    
  • Existing bedroom - now the kitchen / dining area    
  • Existing living room    
  • Existing bathroom    
  • Existing roof void    
  • Existing spine wall and ceiling framing exposed during demolition    
  • New dormer and roof structural framing - note support to disused chimney    
  • A set of 1:25 assemblies communicate key setting out and alignments    
  • Important details were drawn at 1:5, such as positioning of the dormer window    
  • Further internal drawings give room-specific setting out, as shown for the stairwell    
  • 3D views of the stair helped to clarify sequencing and tricky geometry    
  • The contractor team followed this tiling plan religiously to achieve the feature floor linking living areas    
  • Setting out of several doors at a key junction    
  • Detail making threshold at loft room pocket door and rooflight as seamless as possible    
  • An example of drawings used to tender the joinery package    
  • Sketch used to adapt design of loft floor landing during construction    

A small Walthamstow flat transformed into a spacious family maisonette, occupying the first floor and loft of a converted mid-terrace house.

A creative response to an increasingly common situation of young professionals struggling to afford a decent home, the East London apartment has been completely yet cost-effectively overhauled to house both the architect and his mother. Although a particularly personal project, the maisonette’s flexible multi-functional spaces allow for a variety of future scenarios.

What could be afforded was a 39m2 one-bedroom flat with no garden access, further constrained by compartmentalised rooms performing single functions, meaning that the only living space was the front room. The project is therefore driven not only by a need to maximise the available space, but also make it as actively used as possible.

An obsession with compact, de-cluttering design achieved these objectives, aided by fruitful collaboration with a local joiner. Beautifully-crafted birch plywood elements precisely integrated throughout provide full-height and below-window storage whilst doubling as places on which to sit or sleep. Walls and ceilings were realigned to minimise unsightly kinks, with tall pocket doors ensuring rooms feel as open as possible whilst providing privacy when required.

A main open-plan living space spanning the entire depth of the house is created by knocking through the spine wall and concealing it within kitchen and utility units. This dual-aspect space is amply-lit throughout the day by street and garden-facing sash windows. Encaustic floor tiles covering the whole room laid in a pattern of dappled greens with yellow accents unify and enliven the space. As well as giving thermal benefits, underfloor heating here means no walls are obstructed by radiators. Elsewhere, oak floors in the stairwell vertically link and bleed into more private spaces to emphasise spatial continuity.

From the street, the house appears unaltered. Yet some 50% of the existing flat’s floor area is added by extending the rear half of the existing roof with a crisply-detailed dormer, clad in fibre-reinforced concrete strips around a generous south-facing anodised window. This study-cum-bedroom reached by a new top-lit stair enjoys an expansive view of allotments and a church spire juxtaposed against London’s skyline, framed by a library wall with an inviting window seat.


  • Begun: Aug 2016
  • Completed: Feb 2017
  • Floor area: 55m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £114,200
  • Procurement: RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2014
  • Address: Markhouse Avenue, London, E17, United Kingdom

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