Selleney Cottage

TDO Architecture, Egham, 2015


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View from the courtyard 

Mark Cocksedge     Download Original

  • View from the courtyard    
  • The visual element is akin to  Walter Segal’s 1960s timber-framed homes    
  • The structure was prefabricated off-site using standard board sizes and has been left exposed    
  • View out to the courtyard    
  • The success of the detailing relied on the skills of the main contractor, a specialist in joinery    
  • Curved window frame in the master bedroom    
  • Untreated oak is used for doors and external window frames    
  • Window frames on the south-eastern kitchen are formed as deep fins to protect from southern sun    
  • Birch ply detail    
  • Site plan    
  • Location plan    
  • Ground floor plan    
  • Roof plan    
  • Exploded perspective detail: glazing and structure    

In this extension to a 19th century home, a birch ply structure was prefabricated off-site using standard board sizes, to help the client keep to a tight budget.

One of the early decisions in the project process was to create efficiencies through the use off-site production, and exposing the structure of the building as a finish in its own right. In the kitchen the birch ply frames form deep fins, providing shade from the sun and also adding a rhythm to the long, glazed facade. It has created a visual element akin to Walter Segal’s 1960s timber-framed homes. However, using a prefabricated structure rather than Segal’s post and beam method has created larger spans and a more modern aesthetic.

The existing building at Selleney had evolved over time and a strategy between architect and client sought to retain the architecturally interesting elements and demolish all the weaker later additions, which fitted with the family’s desire to continue the site’s evolution. A significant new-build element unlocked the potential of the house. 

The single-storey structure was designed with standard sheet sizes and the contractor’s workshop tools in mind. The design also draws on the use of birch-face ply. This provides much of the structure of the building, which was prefabricated off site and exposed in the final building to reduce costs and wastage, and provide ‘free detail’. 

The building is set up around a series of key sightlines, which set up a transition from the moment of arrival to an immersion in the garden setting. Window frames on the south-eastern kitchen are formed as deep fins to protect from southern sun and to orientate the space to the courtyard. The exposed structural grid aligns with the frames and oversails the external wall to form a shading canopy. The north-eastern living area elevation opens to the main garden and the exposed structural grid is accordingly set at 90º to that of the kitchen to reinforce this relationship.


  • Begun: Jan 2014
  • Completed: Dec 2015
  • Floor area: 230m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £250,000
  • Procurement: JCT Traditional
  • Address: Egham, SL4, United Kingdom

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