Overbury Avenue

Paul O'Neill Architects, Beckenham, 2020



Photography by Jacob Sacks-Jones     Download Original

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The brief for this project was fairly simple in some ways, but there were many challenges throughout the design and construction

We were given a fairly modest budget, to turn an existing 4 bedroom red brick house (of little or no architectural merit) into the family's dream contemporary home, with large open plan living space and generous master bedroom suite. The couple, who have both worked in design, wanted something striking architecturally, but which met all of the functional needs of a young family.

The only parameters set (apart from the budget) were that we were to keep the existing 4 perimeter walls of the house and the first floor structure. Everything else was up for grabs! A large rear extension with green roof replaced a much smaller previously added structure, and formed the new open plan living space. Internal spaces on the ground floor were rearranged to provide the various other functional requirements of the brief, including a large utility room, children's play room and a home office with ensuite bathroom, which doubles as a guest room.

A new double height entrance hall was added, which floods the hallways (both upstairs and downstairs with light). Upstairs each of the 4 bedrooms and family bathroom were essentially kept as they were (albeit fully refurbished). Finally we added a brand new master suite with walk-in wardrobe and shower room in the loft. The clients wanted as much natural light as possible in every room and so we created large openings in the new additions, and created a much stronger connection with the rear garden on the ground floor.

The house has been sigificantly upgraded in terms of its thermal efficiency with a large amount of insulation added to all extenal walls, floors and ceilings. This coupled with high performing glazing make this a very comfortable and efficient house to run, from a heating and cooling perspective. However, it is outside where the house has undergone its most radical changes.

Utilising a limited pallete of monochrome materials (including charcoal brick, Shou Sugi Ban charred timber and zinc), this uninspiring, instantly forgettable red brick box has become a bold architectural statement, which, whilst obviously offering a robust contrast to its neighbours, seems to sit extremely comfortable within its context. This is helped by the fact that the original 'bones' of the building are still very evident and the massing of the overall development has not changed from what was previously visible from the street.

Annual CO2 emissions data (requested in kg/m2/year) was not provided; Awaiting final certification.


  • Begun: May 2019
  • Completed: Mar 2020
  • Floor area: 240m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £245,000
  • Funding: Private
  • Procurement: n/a (self-build)
  • Address: Overbury Avenue, Beckenham, BR3, United Kingdom

Professional Team