The Retreat

Ashton Architecture, Spelthorne, 2020



Photography by Agnese Sanvito     Download Original

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The practice was approached in 2018 to remodel two spaces within this semi-detached Victorian villa: the partially converted loft and a brown conservatory

Our starting point was to work with the existing constraints of the building, to minimise the removal of existing fabric. We kept the existing loft floor structure, once assessed by the engineer, and retained the conservatory slab and foundations. Using timber as the main structural element, there is only one piece of steel used in the project – supporting the reorientated the chimney at roof level.

The client’s desire was to create incidental spaces for perching in the house, to take in views of the outdoors from all vantage points. This concept underpinned the placement of windows, view and seat positions. At ground floor level, the new garden room has a dual-pitched roof opening up to the garden with exposed rafters to provide additional height. Glazing on all sides and within the roof keeps the space feeling open and light, despite the atmospheric internal paint colour.

Externally, the timber cladding will soften and grey to meld with the landscape. At roof level, the existing chimney reorientated to provide a ‘floating’ wall against which the loft could extend further back towards the garden, to provide additional space at roof level. The corner windows bypass permitted development requirements to add screening [front and back windows can be clear] and the external black zinc finish provide a sharp contrast to the more textured external materials of the house.

These two spaces have been a light touch addition to the existing house, offering a new perspective for the occupant’s engagement with the site.

(Note on the gross internal floor: New Loft: 24sqm Existing First Floor: 91 sqm Existing Ground Floor: 95 sqm New Garden Room: 11 sqm)

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was provided as follows: 5 tonnes


  • Begun: Jan 2020
  • Completed: Sep 2020
  • Floor area: 221m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £88,000
  • Funding: private
  • Tender date: Dec 2018
  • Procurement: JCT Homeowners
  • Address: Sunbury, Spelthorne, TW16, United Kingdom

Professional Team