The Caretaker's House

RL-a, London, 2019



Photography by Adam Scott Architectural Photography     Download Original

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60 Southwell Road is tiny. The house is unique in its setting; although it adjoins its neighbour and shares common details with the rest of the terrace, it is a much smaller scale and set considerably further back than its neighbours

Set on a wedged shaped site with its smallest aspect facing the street it is clear that this building was never meant to be seen. It is a curiosity nestled behind cheerless and austere neighbours. Although the client had been happy at the house for several years a few things were holding the place back.

Key culprits were a cold and inefficient kitchen, a ground floor smothered by the presence of an awkward bathroom, a murderously steep staircase and a side extension that was more outside than in.

To free up the ground floor the bathroom was pushed up stairs in place of the spare room and what was previously the main bedroom became the home office. A new storey was then added to accommodate the main bedroom and a nursery and a re-orientated staircase fitted that emerged from the rebuilt side extension at ground floor.

Warmth and light were key to making the house feel like a home and the sun path was utilised to support this alongside an extensive use of timber. The historic sensitivities outside led toward traditional materials and a form that leans away from the Listed buildings next door in deference.

Circulation is orientated to match the angle of the wedge and is therefore differentiated from the rooms with vertical circulation being visually tied together by the use of a semi permeable timber screen.

Handmade tiles, bespoke cabinetry and polished concrete and plaster give the internal spaces identity and play with ideas of homogeneity and direction whilst providing a rich and durable backdrop.

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


  • Begun: Jan 2019
  • Completed: Dec 2019
  • Floor area: 87m2
  • Sector: Residential
  • Total cost: £276,000
  • Funding: private
  • Tender date: Sep 2018
  • Procurement: RIBA Domestic Building Contract 2018
  • Address: 60 Southwell Road, London, SE5 9PG, United Kingdom