Located in London’s Hampton Hill, a short walk from the lush and sprawling Bushy Park, Yellow Steel House by Woodrow Architects is a ground floor rear extension to the pre-existing home of the firm’s founder, George Woodrow.
From the outside, modest brick ensures that the structure flows with the surrounding neighbourhood and the more traditional homes of Windmill Road. But crossing the threshold into this space is rather like jumping through time; inside, the structure is a colourful, striking nod to contemporary design.
Bright yellow steel beams soar at the apex of the gently gabled ceiling. This bold industrial detail is accompanied by softer, more natural surroundings; it is flanked by pale timber rafters on either side, infusing the space with the warmth that such an organic material allows. These are especially showcased by large sections of roof glass, inviting natural light into the space and highlighting the raw beauty of the wood grain. It’s a striking application of a complex engineering choice. “With the steelwork supporting the outrigger and masonry end wall, the unconnected rafters sail over with steel plate apex connections, allowing the design to do away with any ridge beam,” Woodrow tells us. “On the side return they each land on the angled masonry wall at different points, resulting in the rafters reducing in length from front to back.”
Birch plywood infill panels have been white-oiled like the rafters and encase wood fibre insulation batts. These ensure that the moisture levels of the internal environment are regulated by the roof. And it’s a warm roof, thanks to a smart VCL with variable diffusion rates and rigid interlocking wood fibre sarking boards, placed above the structural deck.
This renovation also encompassed changes to the rest of the house’s ground floor and beyond to the garden. This garden, which sits perpendicular to the adjacent terrace, carries that bright canary yellow into the outdoors thanks to some sleek, low-profile furniture. Framed by steel beams and designed to offer uniform sight lines between timber frames and aluminum sashes, the back window of the structure offers views of the gently manicured yard and a vast expanse of sky above.
When it came to reconfiguring the floor plan of the existing house, Woodrow shares that the focus was all about utility. “In the centre of the house, plywood enclosures form a WC, utility cupboard, and hallway storage, freeing up the kitchen from the location of these,” the firm explains of this choice. “The staircase has been re-dressed with full height plywood spindles, with the original treads and risers kept and painted yellow to match the steels.”
Dark, matte cabinetry in the kitchen and stainless-steel appliances ensure that the yellow is not upstaged. A deep green accent wall, instead of a backsplash, is a quiet infusion of colour that grounds the bright primary hue above. It is also seen elsewhere on the ground floor on the fireplace wall of the living area, where the bricks of the hearth are painted in — you guessed it! — yellow, offering a playful, peek-a-boo bit of colour.
That sense of play is carried over into one of the most unique details of this renovation. In the playroom, a cut-out silhouette of a house appears as a recessed, dark green wall in the cabinetry, which adds a bench to the space and serves as a fun detail that visitors may catch only if they’re truly paying attention!
This single-story unit was specifically designed to accommodate a future extension to the attic of the terraced home. We’re excited to see what’s next for this cheerful dwelling.
Once you’ve clicked through the gallery above, be sure to continue your virtual explorations of London with our guide to its effortlessly cool East End as well as the city’s most lavishly decorated restaurants.
Photos courtesy of Woodrow Architects.