Remodelled London house extension
reveals the outline of its predecessor


The sloping roofline of an old extension to a London residence is surrounded by the pale brickwork of its replacement, designed by local studio Tsuruta Architects (+ slideshow).

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Tsuruta Architects refurbished and extended the end-of-terrace family home in south London, integrating the wall of its formerly mono-pitched rear into a new rectilinear extension.

Named House of Trace, the design was intended to reveal "memories of place and construction".

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

"Our intent was to keep a sense of memory, while simultaneously allowing the new intervention to have its own identity," said the architects. "As we uncovered the original building fabric, we discovered the history of the house."

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

The architects gutted the existing extension but retained part of the external wall and built the new two-storey structure around it. Contrasting brickwork was used to distinguish between the old and new parts of the building.

The metal beams used to support the extension were left exposed and large sections of glazing set within the framework, while the previous window opening was filled with pale brick.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

"The original extension had no distinct historical or architectural value, and was structurally unsound, but it had a roof profile typical of those found in terrace house back gardens," they added.

"We chose to incorporate this banality in the new face of the rear garden – in a way fossilising and persevering its charm to carry some sense of associated memory to those who know it or those who see it new."

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

The architects reshuffled the interior layout, relocating the bathroom and kitchen from behind the rear elevation to the centre of the house, and then replacing them with a dining room and master bedroom to take advantage of the garden views.

A galley kitchen is situated in a passageway between the dining room and lounge, which is set at the front of the property.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

A new timber staircase by the lounge leads to the master bedroom at the rear of the house, as well as to a children's room and a third bedroom situated over the lounge, facing the street.

To reintroduce natural light into the core of the house, the architects also added a two-storey lightwell, which is overlooked by internal windows in the master and children's bedrooms.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

The upper storey of the well is completely glazed, giving views of the sky and gardens from the bedrooms, and presents as a glazed slice on the outside of the building.

Wooden shutters can be closed to conceal the master bedroom from the internal space, while a window in the building's once-exterior wall now forms an unshaded opening for the children's room.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

"The lightwell serves as a focal point in the home," said the team, "connecting the family between floors as well as improving the quality of the spaces — the mother's scream 'food is ready' echoes through this passage."

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

The bedrooms are lined with a mixture of the old and new brickwork, plaster and timber. The bathrooms feature white tiles with cracked glazing and copper and brass fittings.

The white soffit of the new staircase steps across the ceiling of one bathroom.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

"The structures of the new envelope have been exposed internally wherever practically possible, so that these surfaces will register the future stories of the house," said the architects.

"Hand marks of workmen trace the process of the work and are now recorded on the internal faces of the building's fabric."

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Components of the extension were three-dimensionally modelled and prefabricated to reduce the cost of on-site construction and allow for a quicker building time.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Bespoke wooden furnishings including the dining table and chairs, beds and staircase were cut using a CNC router – a computer-controlled cutting machine – and flat-packed before being transported to the site.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

Beds and benches feature bases with a concertina-formation that can be used as storage nooks, while notches on the chairs and table reveal where the pieces have been slotted together.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects

The furniture sports the identifying codes from this cutting and reassembly process. "The record of this CNC flatpack process can be traced to the numbering system visible on the faces of each piece," explained the studio.

Photography is by Tim Crocker, Marie-Cecile Embleton and Tsuruta Architects.

House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects
Ground floor plan – click for larger image
House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects
First floor plan – click for larger image
House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects
Section – click for larger image
House of Trace by Tsuruta Architects
Sectional diagram – click for larger image
  • Daedalu

    Quite beautiful, except those horrible copper taps. What were they thinking?

  • iag

    Lovely inside, not so sure about that old-outlined facade…

    • Chris

      I agree. And next time they should leave out the Sketchup section drawing. Please.

      • Dylan

        Why should they leave the SketchUp section drawing out, Chris?

        • Bob

          Yeah why, Chris?

          • Chris

            Haven’t we passed this stage of architectural presentation? I mean come on, even the first-year students in my school (TU Delft) would have come up with a better representation of a section. Or am I replying to the interns who created this image right now?

        • Jan

          Have to agree with Chris on this one. Sketchup can be a useful tool, but at least render that section. This is just a screenshot. It doesn’t do the design justice in this manner.

          • Dylan

            You’re both being software snobs purely because it’s Sketchup.

          • jd

            Because the style in which a project is presented really influences the end result. Get on site and build something. “Render that section?”. Honestly, you are embarrassing.

          • Josh

            Agree with you Dylan and JD. SketchUp serves its purpose and in this case it shows both the professional and the layman the process the designer went through to create the scheme.

            The fact that it’s SketchUp only serves to make the idea of design more accessible.

  • Moule

    That is probably the ugliest house Dezeen has ever featured, inside and out. Decent-sized record collection though.

  • Rogan Josh

    I find this project rather chaotic. The lightwell and bedroom are nice spaces, but in general the spaces do not seem to tie together well and the exterior is odd to say the least.

  • Kris

    That material palette is giving me a headache.


    A bit of a pick and mix this. The brickwork looks odd rather than interesting – the back of the house doesn’t really hang together. Why not try and match the original brick? Or just rebuild from scratch? Inside much better – the bedroom and living spaces are lovely. Not sure about the austere bathroom though – a little prisony. Also, this trend for open shelves in the kitchen. Looks great in pictures but doesn’t everything just get dusty?

  • tony365

    Renders are dumb anyway. I like the house, the house is amazing.

  • JM


  • fooster

    Wonderful work by Tsuruta. Rawness of finish is warm and beautiful. As is form of existing house patch-worked into new. Quite a few harsh comments in here are simply unwarranted. Maybe just plain troll-y.