Improved awareness and appreciation of good design – in part a result of well-known property programmes on our television screens – means homeowners understand the value of extensions and improvements better than ever. That value is not just monetary; for many, it is about quality of life, and stems from the opportunity to work with an architect and create a home they never thought likely to be able to enjoy.
Nowhere is that collaborative spirit more in evidence than at Burma Road, where a Flushglaze modular fixed rooflights was incorporated into the design plan by Brian O’Tuama Architects. Many of the area’s Victorian terraced homes are owned by people employed in creative industries, and represent the perfect canvas for families wanting to make a mark on their properties.
While there are inevitable similarities between houses in a small locality, and even the briefs that come from the clients, each project still offers its own challenges and constraints. This one was no exception.
The owners had lived in the property for ten years, during which time they had updated the existing kitchen but retained its original position within the house. A rear conservatory, “tacked on” to the closet wing by previous owners, only served to emphasise the lack of connection between inside and outside.
The brief, then, was to make a bright, comfortable family space featuring a dining area and kitchen. Maximising the connection to the rest of the house and maintaining light into the rear reception room was important, at the same time as creating a much better connection to the rear garden.
A closet wing is an ‘outrigger’ that does not span the entire rear of the property; it leaves a side return. “It’s a no-brainer to glaze over that side return,” commented Brian O’Tuama. The orientation of the house and the deeply indented nature of the return meant solar gains were not an issue. “We checked that early on,” Brian added.
A pair of French doors were remodelled to create the access between the rear reception room and the new family space. The height of the overall opening – which was divided to create a small, high level window above the doorway between the house and the rear extension – provided the major constraint on the design of the 3°-pitch lean-to glazed roof.
Practicality was an issue that had to be kept in mind too: with no rear access to the property, all products and materials used during the work had to be of an appropriate size and weight to carry through the house.
Designing the glazing
For the section of glazing nearest to the house, a “pop-up” glazed lantern was required to comfortably enclose the new upper opening in the wall, without compromising natural light into the rear reception room. Glazing Vision fixed Eaves Flushglaze rooflights was specified, supplied in two sections of 1185 x 800mm, and 185mm in height. This unit featured a glass to glass detail at the join to maintain the appearance of no visible framework from inside the property.
Standard, BBA-certified Flushglaze modular fixed rooflights was chosen for the remainder of the glazed roof, its 4.5m width created in three sections with aluminium back-to-back angles at the joins to structurally support the glass.
In terms of thermal performance, high performance double glazed units of 28mm were perfectly suited to the project, comprising 2no. 6mm panes separated by a 16mm argon-filled cavity, with warm edge spacers to reduce thermal bridging.
The inner panes featured a specialist soft coat low emissivity (low-e) coatings to control solar gain into the property during summer and reduce the transmission of radiant heat back out during the winter months. All panes were toughened glass, up to five times stronger than ordinary float glass and more resistant to blunt impact; in line with Glazing Vision’s policy of providing it as standard, they were also heat soak tested to virtually eliminate the possibility of spontaneous fracture.
Working with Glazing Vision
Burma Road sits in a conservation area, so of perhaps greater importance was the need for the fixed rooflights to be of sympathetic appearance while also fitting with the contemporary style of the project.
While a rear extension does not impact on the street scene, there is a lot of emphasis on what neighbouring properties can see. It was therefore necessary to “keep things as tucked in and invisible to neighbouring gardens” as possible, and a neutral slate grey outer colour fulfilled that requirement perfectly.
Critically, Brian O’Tuama Architects were able to work with Glazing Vision to fine tune the design of the Flushglaze Eaves rooflights, making sure it blended in as part of the extension while ensuring both parties were happy with the junction detailing and the accommodation for flashings.
Having worked with Glazing Vision before, Brian was happy to include them in initial discussions with fixed rooflights suppliers during design development. Quotations were sought from each supplier, as well as a sense of how the design could be achieved. Cost is obviously important to most projects, and in this case there was little to choose between the quotes received.
“The general response and level of information from Glazing Vision was superior,” said Brian. The options were presented to the client and agreement reached that Glazing Vision would be a nominated supplier, allowing them to play an important role in helping make this client’s vision of their dream home a reality.