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Phillips House, Crystal Palace

Located beside the northern corner of Crystal Palace Park, Phillips House is part of the Dulwich Wood Park estate, built in the late 1950’s to the design of architects Austin Vernon & Partners. Built with living rooms at first floor level, and bedrooms higher still, residents of the estate’s homes are lifted to live amongst tree foliage, leaving the shorter ground floor spaces somewhat forgotten. Brisco Loran were commissioned to bridge this divide through the rearrangement of the ground floor, whilst works to the upper levels would create a loft extension, second floor office and new bathroom.

The reworked plan establishes five bands of activity marked by doorways, steps, parquet, mullions, and pebbled strips in the patio paving. Working within this framework, the garage footprint has been reappropriated to form a shallow bike cupboard, utility room, and bathroom. The former utility room has become a living space serving as a guest bedroom alongside the sunken new-build room.

The expressed brick party walls are projected at ground floor to form flank walls with a precast beam slung between to support incoming roof joists. A screen of five glazed doors climbs to the shallow coping, with the beam and joist ends presented to the garden.

A special quality of the project lies in the communal character of its boundary design with the party walls sufficiently founded to host the loads of future neighbouring extensions. On the south side of the terrace, open fencing eases conversation between neighbours, whilst a short bench allows the adjoining families to spend time together on the north edge.

Central to the function of the ground floor is the cabinetry fabricated by Constructive and Co. Housing storage, alongside various supporting services, these units combine with the floor level change to mark the threshold between the old and new spaces.