Maximising space with structural ingenuity

Knolly’s Road, a residential project in West Norwood, Lambeth demonstrates how thoughtful structural alterations and amendments can transform a living space into a light, spacious and flexible space. The clients, Sue and Steve, were seeking to maximise the space in their existing terrace house. The brief was to create a kitchen extension and re-orientate the living space towards their garden and provide an accessible terrace area. The site’s challenging positioning on a steep slope lead to an interesting design solution.



The key structural elements includes a steel box frame consisting of a concrete encased ground beam with vertical steel posts attached to the brickwork and a horizontal steel top beam supporting the existing first floor. The top beam was installed above the level of the ceiling at ground floor, which provided an open and spacious kitchen and dining area unobstructed by a ceiling bulkhead. Whilst this intervention is more costly and intrusive than having a lower (bulkhead) beam, the continuous ceiling level provides increased light and visual impact to the rooms. The existing opening in the rear elevation wall to the dining room was widened to accommodate a larger glass door system. Since the new opening occupied over 70% of the loadbearing wall, the structural engineer devised a discrete steel goal post frame within the rear wall to safely carry the weight of the building above into the foundations.


Externally in the garden, a new retaining wall creates a terrace area outside between the garden and the extension, new planters are built along the new retaining wall to decorate the garden and create a pleasant view from the kitchen. In the extension, timber roof trimmer beam supports allowed for the installation of a multiple glazed roof system allowing an abundance of light into the kitchen area.


The existing kitchen was replaced with new kitchen, dining and living area to create an open plan space. This alteration creates a spacious arrangement and better use of the space. An island unit towards the centre of the plan breaks up the plan while providing eating area. A new WC at ground floor level tucked behind kitchen allows for added ease of living. The garden can be accessed via a side passage or from the rear bi-fold doors.


The structure was carefully designed and considerate/sensitive to the existing home and landscape. It creates a new practical and spacious living area.