Written by NDA tutor Stephen Matthewman-Knowles
Many experts will tell you that Victorian properties will never go out of fashion and given there are so many of them within Britain, one would tend to agree. Not only is it due to our ongoing fascination with the period, but as much to do with their high ceilings, large bay windows, decorative cornicing and the likelihood of a fireplace in every room.
Whether it is the smaller and more common terrace or the more sort after and impressively detached villas, Victorians built their houses to last and last they have, which is why we retain such a large stock still available today.
However, it is quite often what is going on at the back of these properties, which makes us just as passionate and enthusiastic. For behold the wondrous possibilities these old housing stock present us, with the opportunities to redevelop and add a further layer to their illustrious history.
Below is a typical example of how Victorian properties can be opened up and flooded with light. This is often a typical approach to opening up the back of the house and flooding it with light. Large expanses of glass and a simple neutral palette created a contemporary but sympathetic space that becomes ideal for today’s families.
Another good illustration of how the back of a Victorian terrace can be maximized. Here the owner has created an extension that spans the width of the house. Maximizing space and creating a comfortable family living space that looks out directly onto their garden. With the addition of the glass roof, this really is a light-filled space that can be enjoyed throughout the year.
This design by Yard Architects demonstrated an excellent example of a side return, which is a common approach to Victorian Extensions. The incorporation of this often unused space to the side of a Victorian property has been maximized by the architects to create a beautiful, naturally lit dining area within the contemporary kitchen space.
Another well-executed version of this can be seen here in Platform5 Architects award-winning design for this London Terrace. The understated elegance of the side return and simple use of materials is very sympathetic to the history of the house while being suitable modern for today’s living.
For those looking to create something more striking or statement making, then the ‘glass box’ as it is often known, can be seen in the next two examples. Showing how the whole back of the ground floor has been opened, to make full use of the space available, whilst creating a contemporary and spacious addition that is light filled and suitable for meeting the needs of modern life.
The glass box design will often be complementary, as seen here with its pitched roof that reflected the house’s original design. Equally, there are many examples, which are much more contemporary in their approach, creating a striking difference between old and new.
For those looking to really maximize the potential of their Victorian property, then these final two examples show just what is achievable, if you think big and think bold. They demonstrate just what can be realized when you take the idea of the Victorian extension to the extreme.
The double height space that has been created here by Robert Dye Architects, is a truly spectacular piece of design, embracing both the existing structure and the modern addition. Emphasizing the connection between the old and the new. Giving this family a truly unique and exciting new addition to their home.
Overseen by Scott Architect, this final example demonstrates taking the idea of the Victorian extension and really pushing what can be achieved with thought and consideration. Combined with freeing the project of limitations, this addition to the much loved Victorian terrace shows that nothing is impossible when exploring the idea of extending your home. A simply remarkable addition to any property.
This, like all the others featured here, really underlines that whatever your size of home, or scale of budget, our much admired Victorian houses can provide the perfect background for many more years to come.