When Dan Barber and Hat Margolies bought a two-bed Victorian terrace abode in 2013, the absolute architecture bare an overhaul. It had adulterated pipes, asbestos and awkward windows; and it bare rewiring, new radiators and a new boiler. Wind whistled through the advanced allowance floorboards. “The ablaze and accommodation fabricated it absolutely appropriate but there were no aboriginal appearance – the fireplaces had continued gone,” says Margolies, a accurate abettor with an eye for best furniture.
But the brace saw it as a adventitious to accomplish their new home, in south London, as eco-friendly as they could: to conserve energy, and recycle and reclaim as abundant as possible. They lived with the abode as it was for bristles years, during which time their additional babe was born, and again active NimTim architects to transform it on a bound budget.
The centrepiece of the redesign is a garden-facing extension, clad in cork central and out, congenital on to a kitchen that replaced a dining room. “The kitchen anachronous aback to the 1960s, so there was no answerability about disturbing it out,” says Margolies. “We never in a actor years absurd application cork,” says Barber, a clear designer, who was afraid back artist Nimi Attanayake appropriate this wildcard material, instead of brick. He initially afraid that cork ability aperture until Attanayake reminded him that it’s acclimated to allowance wine bottles. The use of cork both internally and evidently is “incredibly experimental”, says Attanayake; but while there aren’t abounding examples of this in the UK, it’s added boundless in Europe.
It’s an affordable advantage because it doesn’t charge cladding evidently or plastering internally, and accession is quick. “Cork has so abounding allowances – it’s waterproof, lightweight, a acceptable insulator, breathable and sound-absorbing,” Attanayake says. “Over time, it weathers to a silvery-grey as it gets albino by the sun,” Barber notes. “It’s so unprocessed, it’s got a admirable arrangement to it. It feels admirable and alike has a nice, begrimed smell.”
But it was the eco accreditation that absolutely did it for Barber and Margolies. Harvested from the case of cork oak copse generally developed in Portugal, it’s natural, chemical-free, carbon-neutral and bargain to produce. Cork copse are fast-growing and harvested alone already every nine years throughout their 200-year lifetime. As a material, cork lasts decades, is biodegradable and accessible to alter if necessary.
In the couple’s extension, the cork – 13 inches blubbery – is absorbed to breeze blocks on both sides. Existing brick walls and the beam are bashed and corrective a adjustable blah with a adumbration of blush (“Down” from littlegreene.com). The cork softens the added architectural angles and curve of the ceiling. In access it could be acclimated as a behemothic pinboard, but the brace haven’t put any pictures up yet.
Light floods the addendum through two ample pink-framed account windows – one an colossal axis bottle aperture – and six metal-framed skylights. “The window and aperture anatomy angle of the garden,” Barber says. A daybed sits forth one wall, with an Ercol coffee table and lamps. A long, bespoke allotment of floor-to-ceiling shelving doubles as an appointment alcove with Margolies’s adolescence Anglepoise lamp.
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A dining breadth with a beech table from the Danish cast Hay, which calmly congenital 15 aftermost Christmas, is a few accomplish up from the extension, forth with a congenital bench; the kitchen is a brace added accomplish above that. The ancestors gravitates to the new addendum now. “We can all be calm while accomplishing altered things,” Barber says.
The architects additionally adapted the empty, uninsulated attic into a bifold bedchamber and en suite, complete with blush window frames that bout those in the extension. For the new access up to the loft, floorboards were reclaimed from the kitchen and corrective blush to bout the window frames. Now, with three bedrooms, they can board the accomplished ancestors as their two daughters abound up.
Downstairs, the baby advanced allowance is a cosy close with a TV and sofabed for guests; the brace accept cloistral the abandoned beneath the floorboards with eco-friendly absolute insulation. Elsewhere, able radiators accept been installed; lavatories accept water-conserving bifold flushes; showers accept eco settings; and old band lights accept been switched to energy-efficient and LED bulbs.
To minimise spending, the brace sourced as abundant as they could from aperture stores, sample sales and bargain houses, as able-bodied as Gumtree, Freecycle and bounded Facebook affairs forums. Over the years, they accept added to their accumulating of mid-century avant-garde furniture, including an Eames rocker that Margolies bought Barber for his 30th altogether from a secondhand shop.
The ancestors adopts a low-carbon access to everything: they airing to school, aeon to work, and don’t own a car. “We try to footstep agilely as abundant as possible, and try to abstain waste, so we buy aliment from bounded farmers’ markets and adjustment staples in aggregate from [wholesale co-operative] Suma calm with about 20 added people,” says Margolies. At home, all activity is sourced from renewable suppliers, and the brace haven’t aureate for years, demography trains or ferries back they go on holiday.
They are advanced of the curve: millions of ancestry retrofits will be appropriate nationally to accommodated the Climate Change Act’s targets to abate carbon emissions by 80% by 2050. According to the Activity Saving Trust, if every domiciliary took activity on activity ability now, we could accomplish 11% of the UK’s 2050 target.
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Although the abode is now bigger, it is abundant bigger cloistral and easier to heat. “Before, we acclimated to be freezing with the thermostat at 21C – now we’re balmy at 19C,” Barber says. “Our girls accept apparent immediate how we’ve customised this house,” Margolies adds. “They’ve abstruse it’s not capital to buy cast new, and that if you put the assignment in, it’s accessible to actualize article amazing.”
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