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Category Winner


Leyton House


McMahon Architecture

Sean McMahon



Architectural Design

Structures & Spaces

Design Challenge and Design Ideas

Leyton House forms a new home for a filmmaker and writer. The design reimagines a neglected, narrow plot that sits at the end of a 1960s terrace which straddles two Victorian streets and built on the site of a World War 2 bomb. The brief was to maximise the potential of the infill site creating a space to live and work that suits the client’s current requirements but also has the potential to adapt and grow as circumstances change.

How the brief was fulfilled

“A lengthy two-year process was undertaken to convince the planners to embrace a contemporary design approach that respects the spirit of the adjacent 60’s terrace whilst addressing the Victorian street.

Key to unlocking the site was utilising the below ground potential and integrating subterranean spaces into the plan. Complex structural works were undertaken to create a full-length basement.

Budget constraints meant that there was no main contractor and each package was separately managed. Close collaboration with the client was essential and the process required dedicated commitment from the building team who enthusiastically bought into the overall design.

The project is defined by its elemental nature and is composed of a brick plinth at street level with a finely detailed timber framed structure above. The basement below is formed around two courtyards that enable daylight to penetrate deep into the plan.

A soft, reddish brick was chosen to suit the varied context, with concrete detailing and flush white lime mortar amplifying the solid monolithic base. Siberian Larch timberwork at first floor is finished in white oil creating a unified composition.

The forms are subtlety articulated across the site addressing both the street and corner context. A setback between ground and first floor creates a rooflight extending along the length of the living area. Timber joists are exposed internally, modulating incoming light and creating shadows that enrich the space throughout the day. A continuous concrete bench demarcates kitchen, dining and living areas forming a simple and ordered space.

Street facing external windows are screened for privacy, emphasising the elemental nature of the volumes. Internally a warm, natural palette of materials is employed – inspired in part by the client’s time spent living in Mexico – with concrete, brick and timber softening as progress is made from public to private. A clay plaster wall links all three floors and at basement level, different tones of clay wrap the walls and ceilings creating a feeling of enclosure and warmth.

Through material integrity and careful detailing the building seeks to create a generosity of space and calmness that the original site did not immediately suggest was possible.”


“Love the tones and materiality crafted with subtlety and skill, well balanced and deftly created architecture.”



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