London-based architecture practice ConForm has completed the unique renovation of a terraced house in Hampstead, England, resulting in a new tactile interior scheme contrasted by a distinct, monolithic extension that appears entirely hewn from marble. Designed to offer a seamless connection between a renewed ground floor plan and the southeast-facing garden, the marble side extension introduces volume and light to previously dark, disconnected living spaces of the Victorian home. 

The clients appointed ConForm for their sensitive approach to materials, which they had seen executed in a previous project. The design goal was for a full house refurbishment with a functional serene interior, improved circulation and storage, and flexible, spacious dining and entertaining space for hosting large gatherings. As a busy family with children, robust durable but beautiful materials were an important consideration.

ConForm looked first to the context of the home, which is situated in a quiet residential area of London known for its Greek road names. The architects sought to design a renovation that foregrounds contrasts, exploring the relationship and dynamic interplay between solid marble and pre-existing exposed brickwork.

A refreshed entry sequence offers simpler circulation through the ground floor. From the hallway, stained oak sliding doors allow access to the formal sitting room at the front of the home, which features integrated, low-level timber joinery. A flexible dining area sits adjacent to the sitting room at the center of the plan, also accessible through a new door located down the entrance hall, cleverly masking a tucked-away family coat closet. The dining area is defined by rich stained oak timber flooring lined with custom white joinery along the south elevation, revealing a new access point to the cellar and bathroom. It is here that the first connection to the extension begins through an internal marble aperture overlooking the new kitchen and side extension. 

The addition is entirely clad in marble with soft gray veining, and is bookended internally and externally by two cubic frames featuring angled chamfered edges, which direct light and views through the home. The sleek angular edges soften any visual bulk of the marble, which is lit by overhead glazing along the northern boundary and a deep-set floor-to-ceiling window, which overlooks the rear courtyard garden. Three overhead beams of powder-coated steel offer integrated LED lighting and solar shading throughout the day, bouncing soft shadows and reflections throughout the bright and airy space. 

ConForm guided their clients throughout the project, overcoming the technical challenge of working with such a solid material and its application to functional heavy-use surfaces with simple innovative solutions. Working in close collaboration with both the supplier and specialist installers, the studio opted to reduce the thickness, and more importantly, the weight of the marble covering the doors, drawers, appliances and soffits to only 6mm. Each marble panel is reinforced with latched fastenings, ensuring secure and solid connection to the highly insulated structure.

Marble continues throughout the kitchen continuously, used for the flooring, wall cladding and cabinetry -- presenting a cohesive space. Considering precise detailing at each step in the project, ConForm opted not to bookmatch the paneling to encourage a natural textural language. The consistent use of marble throughout demarcates the kitchen as a serene space that appears slotted into place, connecting at highly detailed and considered junctions to the existing architecture.

The clients spend much of their time cooking and hosting family, and so briefed ConForm to deliver a functional kitchen that can stand up to frequent use. ConForm designed a convivial congregation point, a generous kitchen island, which appears to float lightly in the center of the bright space. The stained oak island is supported by a slender white powder-coated steel frame designed to bring a sense of lightness against the weight of solid stone cladding. The steel frame extends and steps down the island to form a dining table that comfortably seats four. ConForm opted for a Corian quartz countertop opposed to marble, chosen for its durability and non-porous nature. 

ConForm lowered the new kitchen and living area down to create a more generous overhead volume, digging down 40 centimeters. The openness of the space was designed to reinforce the feeling of solidity of the marble side extension, and this guided all design decisions. Materials were specifically selected so they could run inside to out – concrete and white-painted brick, the glazing is minimally framed and sliding with external framing recessed into the floor, ceiling and walls. These elements culminate in a seamless transition between inside and out, achieving the client’s desire for an enjoyable and easy connection to the outdoors.

ConForm revamped the entire property, with lighter touches made to refresh five bedrooms on the upper floors – three used as bedrooms, one as a playroom and one as a home office. The architects added a new dormer and a pod room above the outrigger which similarly features sloping, chamfered window detailing in black cladding. Achilles started on site in February 2021, completing in April 2022. 

“We approach all projects, regardless of typology, with a meticulous research phase to find opportunities to create lasting impactful and highly designed spaces,” said Ben Edgely, director at ConForm. “Achilles was no exception. We spotted an opportunity to elevate the typical Victorian terrace with a restrained yet rich material palette -- creating a space our clients will continue to enjoy for years to come.”

The homeowners were very pleased with the end result. “ConForm has worked impeccably hard, considering fine details at every stage of the project without losing sight of the wider design ambition,” they said. “The result is a beautiful and unique home that functions easily for our busy day to day, and that we enjoy living in as a family.”