Mark Wenden loves contemporary architecture. His family home growing up was a modernist property and he wanted to provide a similar environment for his family, including his elderly mother.

While he wanted to live close to his mother, he also wanted her to be able to enjoy her own space independently and with a luxurious quality of life. Achieving this would require a dramatic transformation of his classic Victorian home, in both space and style.

Despite his love for the new, Mark’s property represented the very best of Victorian architecture: a grand, red brick home with ornate detailing, wrapped in rich vegetation. This classic appearance would become a façade masking a bright, open plan interior and a bold, modern extension.

Adding contemporary design to a classic building is a delicate operation. The contrast must be clear, clean and complementary, otherwise old and new will clash, ruining both. Any materials used must not just meet but exceed those that make up the original property.

The surrounding area of Dorking was conservative in architectural style. The streetscape had a very particular character and Mark’s house was a highlight. Though from the front change would be minimal, any deviation from the established aesthetic would have to be thoroughly justified in planning.

As expected, the planning department was hesitant to approve. To demonstrate the quality of our design, we produced new plans drawn to their suggestions. Side by side, it was clear which provided a home more suitable to contemporary life and the needs of Mark's family.

For the side extension that would provide space for Mark's mother we stuck with natural brick so as not to overwhelm the original structure. For the rear extension, however, we deviated entirely with glass walls framed by pristine black metal.

Victorian and 21st century styles sit together, their differences highlighting the timeless qualities of each.

Though the contrast between old and new is stark from the outside, the interior is a cohesive whole. We opened the tightly packed, cellular rooms of the Victorian house into light-filled, refreshing and adaptable spaces with flush floors and ceilings.

In addition to the new lateral space, we also made the most of Mark's generously sized loft to provide two new double bedrooms, complete with their own shower room.

Uniting it all is a feature cylindrical staircase immediately visible upon entering the house and embellishing the new open plan kitchen, dining and living room space with its spectacular, sculptural form.

This remodelling and extending transformed one house into two homes. Mark's mother can enjoy the freedom of independence without losing the joy of family, with her own entrance, kitchen, bathroom and living space along with clear access and view of the garden.

The result is a house that has never been better, improved to such high quality and versatility that its potential can continue to be fulfilled for generations to come.


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