Project Specifications

  • Project Name: Bracken House
  • Project Architect: Novak Hiles Architects
  • Project Location: London, United Kingdom
  • Project Year: 2021
  • Project Area: 137 sq. m
  • Structural Engineer: Simple Works
  • Manufacturers: Maxlight
  • Lighting Design: Novak Hiles Architects
  • Landscaping: Benjamin Tyler
  • Cabinetry Design: AMP Builders and Novak Hiles Architects
  • Interior Design: Novak Hiles Architects
  • On-Site Design and Project Realisation: Carla Novak, Adam Hiles
  • Building Control Inspector: Salus
  • Main Contractor: AMP Builders

Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects is a revamped terraced dwelling in London based on the ‘Arts and Crafts’ theme. The home and its neighbourhoods were developed just before the First World War, with stylish frontages influenced by the arts and crafts movement, and are now located in a protected area.

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One of the most difficult architectural styles to master is Arts & Crafts. Although there are various distinguishing characteristics of an Arts and Crafts house, the style is influenced by a number of other architectural styles, leaving it more difficult to identify.

Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects

Handcrafted style and accessible materials were welcomed by Arts & Crafts-style residences. The name relates to a larger societal movement that includes interior design, fabrics, art, and more.

Jess and Ben, who reside in London with their daughter and cat, in a tiered Arts and Crafts property, consulted founders of Novak Hiles architects Carla Novak and Adam Hiles, for a cure to the gloomy and inconveniently placed spaces on the ground level.

Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects floor plan of a house with a kitchen and living room

The family desired a place where they could interact with one another and their guests while also establishing a connection with nature. With this basic requirement in mind, the architects suggested a modern addition that combines subtle allusions to the three-bedroom house’s original design concept.

Bracken House by Novak Hiles Architects is a modern solution offering homage to the roots of the house that stays connected to the Arts and Crafts Movement. The primary emphasis has been on the lower level of the house, in order to give a better layout for family living, and the previous dark and inconvenient kitchen space has been eliminated as a result.

“The downstairs of the property had an awkward arrangement of small rooms which were functionally compromised and lacked natural light. There was very little space for family dining, and the kitchen was cut off from the rest of the house,” mentioned Hiles.

Bracken House room with a table, chairs and a vase of flowers

The expansion of Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects has a dispersed open plan layout that has had an instant transformational impact. The space’s layout staggers and expands gradually but purposefully to develop a feeling of functional division without overly imposing it, offering a level of organization and structure for everyday life while preserving an open and light atmosphere.

The team of architects designed an open concept and dining space with full-height windows, a skylight, and sliding pocket doors leading out to the split-level yard to replace the old tiny and gloomy kitchen. Muted earthy colors, such as olive-green cabinetry and jade tile background, echo the lush vegetation outdoors.

Bracken House  kitchen with a large window and potted plants

Beginning from the front entrance, a glass pocket door leads to an improvised kitchen arrangement and terminates in a picturesque window to the back. The window offers scenery right through to the garden. This gives the ground level a unified vibe and guarantees that the landscaping is seen throughout. A built-in window seat is snuggled amid indoor plants in the picture window.

The split-level design in the back garden continues the staggered layout concept into the outdoor area, accentuating a cohesive vibe in the interiors and exterior. Brick paving and lush green plants provide a quiet urban retreat atmosphere, while texture and design are embraced.

Art piece of Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects
A cat drinking water from a kitchen tap

The back facade of Bracken house London combines modern pressed metal with custom ceramic tiles grouped in a festive frieze at the project’s head, giving it a noble aspect toward the lawn. The studio created the unique external tiles expressly for this design, combining contextual arts and crafts elements like bracken fern leaves into a repetitive modern geometry that adds comfort and texture to the sharpness of the pressed metal.

The tiles and related casting die were handcrafted in the United Kingdom and stand as a tribute to small-scale skill and production. The expansion’s color scheme was inspired by London’s well-known tiled tube station facades, but with a milder modern tone and a higher level of relief. 

The natural hues of the ceramic tiles and pressed metallic work on the exterior, combined with the vibrant internal accents, create an energizing and welcoming material palette. Exposed ceiling joists covered in white serve to filter natural sunlight from a large roof light overhead.

Bracken House kitchen with a table and chairs and a potted plant

The design team took this creative challenge and delivered a rewarding result for the family with their modern design approach. The site context and neighboring elements were given importance and catered to. In this design, textures and the color palette played a huge role to make the concept richly experiential.

Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects now features an extended home with a new artistic ground floor back expansion and a loft extension covered in zinc that provides second-floor level space, in addition to upgrading and reorganizing the layout.

Storage has been thoughtfully integrated into each level of the remodeled home, as well as used to define boundaries, conceal construction, and provide flexibility of usage.

The roofing of the rear expansion is chamfered to create a modest canopy over the back entrance, which is molded to incorporate a setback in the plan. The expansion, which is made up of soft pink tumbling bricks and a gently pitched restored stone parapet, contrasts warmly with the house’s interior.

The house’s additional ground-floor level has been redesigned as three discrete areas with open relationships to one another but unique personalities and senses of the enclosure, emphasized by full-width stairs, pocket doors, and joinery arrangement.

Bracken House close view

The new ground-floor layout, which includes the new expansion, offers a considerable amount of floor space, as well as natural daylight from the roof light and wide sliding doors to the lawn, and a better feeling of proportion and movement.

The firm was determined to provide a strong axial path from the front entrance to the backyard. This not only adds structure to the layout but also connects the various ground-floor rooms and increases the inhabitants’ perception of space and mobility.

A brick building with glass doors and flowers in the foreground

The volume and shape of the rear expansion, which is headed by a large glass sliding door, have been meticulously designed to feature a setback in the layout that emphasizes the axial perspective and path from the property’s main entrance to the back garden. As a result, the dining area within gains clarity, and the link to a neighboring facility is cleanly resolved.

Natural daylight floods down from above all the way to the bottom level owing to a huge roof light. A big bay window overlooks an open green area beyond, anchoring the home in its surroundings.

Many ineffective modifications and adornments installed over the years were removed as part of the building exterior work, with the goal of restoring the facade to something akin to its original design, but with modern flavours and enhanced usefulness.

Bracken House patio area with a table and chairs

The garden was an intrinsic and dominating feature of the design that has been used to establish an intimate connection with nature. The easy access to the garden and seamless boundary with pocket sliding doors forms an indoor-outdoor relationship between the spaces. A minimal yet beautiful palette of sturdy ambient materials and colours is used in the design.

The clean white aesthetics in the interior decor contrast with external brickwork and metal textures. This forms a balance in the design and prevents any of the space to become overpowering, thus catering to the open-layout planning.

Final words

Bracken House Novak Hiles Architects is a unique approach to design. The major challenge was to preserve the authenticity of the Arts and Crafts Movement which has been tackled smartly by the team of architects. The ornamentation maintains the integrity of the original features and at the same time induces a sense of modern design and architecture in the house.

The gloomy spaces of this house have now been converted into areas that flood with natural light. And the pocket sliding doors allow the natural breeze to flow into the house. Thus, the architect has subtly highlighted the aspects of sustainability and paid tribute to the original artwork and architecture.

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