Hidden House

Our clients sought to create a new home within the garden of their previous house that would better meet their future needs. There was however a presumption in local planning policy against the development of back gardens and two previous planning applications by a different architect had been refused. Given this policy context and the property’s highly-sensitive location within the Mortlake Conservation Area we developed a design that used a new brick garden wall to hide the house from the public realm.

The house is slightly sunken below ground and has generous views of the garden
View into the courtyard with existing apple tree

Hidden behind a new brick garden wall and sunk into the ground by 0.8m, the 62sqm house is entered through a south-facing terraced garden. The 100sqm of amenity space includes a patio area, lightwell and courtyard with an existing apple tree at the rear of the house. New planting will include multi-stemmed silver birch trees and fragrant herbs. Windows have been arranged to maximize views into the amenity spaces and provide a variety of outlooks within the plot.

Site photo of work in progress
Site photo of work in progress

The brick walls extend into the interior of the house, blurring the distinction between inside and outside and increasing the perceived size of the house. An off-road parking space is incorporated between the new and existing garden.

Existing house showing extent of back garden
Reducing the existing site levels by 0.8m
Single storey house hidden behind garden wall
Ultra slim flat roof design maximises internal ceiling height
Roof design includes an extensive carpet of sedum planting

“This design is evidence that infill plots provide great opportunities for new build houses even in boroughs that usually don’t approve schemes in back gardens.”

David Pierce
Brick walls extent into the interior of the house
Off-road parking space between the new and existing garden

An extensive green roof that will comprise a variety of plants will create a verdant outlook from neighbouring properties, preserving the character of the previous garden. The timber roof structure is exposed internally, the timber beams helping to define spaces within the open plan.

Brick walls continue from the outside to the inside
Exposed timber roof structure

The floor plan has been designed to minimise corridors and hallways to maximise the sense of space. Arranged over one level, the house has been designed to meet Lifetime Homes requirements that ensure that the house is accessible and inclusive.

“Dallas–Pierce–Quintero listened to what we wanted to achieve and was full of suggestions but not afraid to advise when our ‘wants’ were unrealistic from a practical or aesthetic viewpoint. I have no hesitation in recommending the services of the team.”

Existing context
Proposed house footprint
The 62sqm house is entered through a south-facing terraced garden
The 100sqm of amenity space includes a patio area, lightwell and courtyard
Short section through courtyard and bedroom space
Long section through terraced garden, living space and courtyard

The building has been designed with improved insulation and air tightness standards. In addition, the house will incorporate an air source heat pump and mechanical ventilation heat recovery that in combination will result in a reduction in carbon emissions of over 36% above the requirements of Part L of the Building Regulations.

Material palette

Materials have been carefully selected to respond to the conservation area, but also chosen for their contemporary look and feel. When viewed from the public realm the only aspect of the house that is visible is the brick garden wall that surrounds the house. A weather buff clay brick will be laid to match the brick-bond on adjacent walls and be soot-treated to blend in. The internal face of these walls will be in a lighter brick, the texture of these bricks changing when exposed below ground level. A terrazzo floor will run through all the rooms which will compliment the exposed timber ceiling above.


Royal Borough of Richmond Upon Thames, London
Private Client
Collaborators: Stratagem Planning, Fold Engineering & JPS Landscape Design

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