When faced with the challenge of updating a 1930s semi-detached house in the UK, Studio Jayga Architects embraced the elegant geometry of the structure’s U-shape for light and inspiration.
The homeowners in Loughton, Essex were looking for “a space for modern day living and a stronger connection to their beautiful garden.” The original main floor had three rooms crowded in the back of the house: a constricted kitchen with dated fixtures, a tiny living room with no windows, and a dining room extension added in the 1980s. The bottom floor sat a full three feet above the exterior ground, with just one steep staircase granting passage to the back garden. Very little light made its way into this downstairs level, thanks to a large nearby outbuilding that blocked many of the existing windows.
After demoing that outside structure, the architecture firm solved the limited space problem by extending out the back exterior wall at garden level, connecting the addition to the current interior with three wall-to-wall stairs to and an overall open concept. The kitchen was also rehoused in the new ground-level addition, providing direct physical and visual access to the beautiful green spaces around it.
Natural light now streams in through three unique and ingenious windows and doors. The custom-made archways and the U-shaped window balance each other in geometric harmony. From the outside, it almost looks like the glass shapes spell the letters “n-n-u,” the name Studio Jayga gave this design.
The “nnU House” window is set into the wall, creating a perfect resting seat for enjoying the outdoor splendor while also taking advantage of the indoor climate. The top of the window extends above the ceiling line, jutting into a skylight and allowing even more light in from above.
The kitchen island takes its cues from the rounded windows, curving around in a gentle oval and further softened by a ribbed lining of cylinders around its base. Elsewhere, a comforting green envelops the wall of cabinetry, bringing the outside in. It complements the playful, multi-hued terrazzo stone backsplash and countertops.
The rest of the eating area is filled in with neutral floor tiles and crisp white walls, creating an airy space for gathering and working.
The connected living room is framed in on one side by tall, natural-colored timbers that outline the separate space while still offering clear sightlines to the kitchen. Birdseye maple flooring laid in chevron patterns draws the eye over into this area.
The outside of the addition was covered in timber charred on-site in the ancient Japanese style of “shou-sugi-ban,” giving the siding a cultivated and aged look.
Studio Jayga Architects was founded by Abul Mahdi, a member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) who got his start building a village clinic in Bangladesh. Perhaps that experience influenced the studio name, which comes from a Bangla word meaning “place.”
“We believe that the spaces we inhabit should have a sense of place; this means that architecture should engage with its social and physical context to create a sense of belonging and community,” the company website says. “We believe that good quality design can benefit and improve people’s lives significantly.”