Premier Construction

Tower House Barnsbury Islington

Written by Roma Publications

Tower House

Tower House is a Grade II listed house in Barnsbury, Islington that has been renovated and extended by Dominic McKenzie Architects and property and development company Aston World. The original house was constructed and had previously been extended to the rear in the 1980s. This previous addition was poorly insulated and contained the houses only bathroom – located a full storey below the bedrooms.

The new two and a half storey rear extension, which replaces the 1980s extension, creates a slender tower at the back of the house – giving the project its name. This vertical element was inspired by the towers constructed by competing merchants in the Italian hill town of San Gimignano.

The upper part of the tower contains a new bathroom which is now located in much closer proximity to the bedrooms. Beneath the bathroom a dramatic new one and a half storey space has been created, which contains the lower ground floor dining room. This is discovered on arrival via a new balcony from the existing staircase half-landing.

To the rear of the dining room, a new timber sash window echoes the retained sash window at the rear of the bathroom, but is considerably taller (3.5m). Similarly two timber French doors adjacent are 3m high. These large glazed elements produce a playful, unexpected shift in scale on entry to the lower ground floor and garden.

Within the main house the original period details have been retained and carefully restored. Painted timberwork was stripped back and repainted. A new Carrara marble fireplace was added to the ground floor front room, the detail of which matches those commonly found in the local area.

The bespoke lower ground floor kitchen and master bedroom storage was created by a specialist joiner to DMA’s design. The kitchen units are finished in a sprayed finish to match Farrow and Ball’s ‘Hague Blue.’ Internally units have an exposed oak finish. Oak is also used for the timber floors throughout, with a more traditional board finish used on the upper floors and herringbone pattern for the lower ground level.

The remodelled rear garden comprises a series of planted terraces which step down towards the lower ground floor level from the original rear garden level. A large portion of the existing garden was excavated to achieve this, allowing the lower ground to be fully connected with the garden – previously the basement dining room looked in to a drainage gully. The terraces, steps and patio and lower garden walls are clad in York stone to materially unify the garden.


Image Credit – Dominic McKenzie Architects

About Dominic McKenzie Architects

Dominic McKenzie Architects (DMA) is an award-winning practice based in North London with work frequently published in the UK and internationally. The practice specialises in conceptual, design-led residential work which is simultaneously highly tuned to the history and context of a given building.

Dominic McKenzie studied at Cambridge University and the Royal College of Art. Prior to establishing his own practice in 2011, Dominic was project architect on a number of multi award-winning projects including Quarterhouse in Folkestone, which won a 2009 RIBA award and Accordia in Cambridge which won the 2008 Stirling Prize – the UK’s highest architectural award.


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