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On the terraces

in The Sunday Times
'Home' supplement

27th April 2014

By Hugh Graham

Photographs: Charles Hosea

'The Victorian terrace updated by Kilburn Nightingale.'

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The poky proportions of the traditional two-up two-down are getting a radical makeover. And about time too, says Hugh Graham.


'The terraced house is part of Britain's iconography,two-up two-down on a par with double-decker buses, yet it poses a challenge to modern architects: how do you build a contemporary version of this national symbol without resorting to pastiche, and how do you reinvent such a narrow and confined structure for 21st-century open-plan living?

'…The architects Kilburn Nightingale have completely reconfigured a four-storey Victorian town house in Hackney. Normally, rejigged terraces have a big kitchen-cum-family room opening onto the garden in the basement, and the ground-floor living room is forgotten or underused. In Ben Kilburn's redesign, he extended the basement, knocked out the back wall of the living room above and created a balconied gallery looking down onto the family space below, and out through a double-height structural glazed wall. Now the two floors feel connected, and even more light reaches the basement, a good trick for those who want to make the most of a two-up two-down.

'But whether you opt for old or new, it seems the future is looking bright for the dark and poky terrace.'