The project consists of the extension and complete refurbishment of a Grade II Listed house, located in the North Oxford Victorian Suburb Conservation Area, which the client wished to return to its former splendour. Lower quality extensions built by the previous occupants were removed and replaced with elements of an appropriate scale and quality.
Built in 1862 by architect William Wilkinson in the Tudor Gothic style, it was one of the first houses built on the estate. As such, it was built so that its principle facade addressed its main approach from the University Park. A key aim of the project was to address the property’s street presence on Norham Gardens. This was achieved by designing and constructing a new wing, featuring an entrance tower, which provides some balance to the façade and marks the entrance in a clear manner.
The dwelling, which had been extended and remodelled several times in its history, was particularly blighted by the addition of a 1960’s flat roofed toilet block extension to the street facade by a Tutorial College, which occupied the property from 1950 to 2010.
Riach Architects worked with Victorian Heritage specialists and the Oxford City Council Conservation Team to ensure the client’s brief was met whilst respecting the original architecture. Planning Permission was obtained in December 2013 for the house as now built.
Over fifteen months the house was transformed. Work undertaken included the complete internal and external refurbishment of the existing building, working with Main Contractor G. Dighton & Sons and specialist contractors. Period features such as fireplaces and staircases were carefully restored. Plumbing, heating and electrical installations were all completely overhauled to bring the house up to modern standards.
Externally the work included the cleaning, repairing and re-pointing of all external masonry and stonework. Chimneys were made safe and working flues reinstated where previously they had been blocked up. A significant proportion of the stonework was replaced with new to match the existing. New purpose made double glazed sash windows were installed throughout.
The extensions to the existing were carefully designed to incorporate similar proportions, brick bond and brick detailing to the original. A comprehensive photographic and drawn survey of the existing buildings stone and brick detailing provided a palette of elements, which were then used in the design of the extensions.
An excellent match for the original bricks was achieved by using a bespoke blend consisting of two different Northcot handmade bricks: 70% Northcot Plumstead Antique and 30% Northcot Plumstead Orange. This subtle combination formed what is now called the ‘Norham Gardens’ blend from Northcot Brick. Made using age-old ‘benchmould’ handmaking techniques, they have a natural quality, which are largely indistinguishable from the originals.
The front and rear gardens were extensively landscaped. This work improved the building’s setting with retained and new trees framing the building. A new pedestrian access was inserted into the front boundary wall and a new cast iron railing and gates complete the street frontage.
The work undertaken should secure the future of the house for many generations to come.
project type Architectural
architect Riach Architects
bricks used Plumstead Antique, Plumstead Orange
Northcot Brick Ltd, Station Road, Blockley,
Nr. Moreton-in-Marsh, Gloucestershire GL56 9LH