Brownlow Road - Revisiting Mid-Century Modernism in Hackney


: Built ByOthers, GG Archard Photography

The refurbishment of a home for a design-forward couple rested on an exercise in activation. The design incisively drew out the maisonette's mid-century DNA, bringing light into garden-facing living spaces whilst working to a compact plan.

The project's central challenge was to open up the apartment's tight organisation and highlight the virtues of its original features, all while resisting direct reproduction. The driving approach for Brownlow Road has been to strengthen visual connections and circulation; release truncated space; and introduce new, congruous moments of design intrigue. Freeing up the previously partitioned kitchen became a key design move, improving its connection with living and circulation spaces. We removed ground floor structural walls to create one open plan kitchen, dining and living area, eliminating dark, disused space. A new reeded glass and timber partition formed a hybrid threshold, providing storage and maintaining visual connection between cooking and living zones. The partition's glass and timber became part of a wider exercise in revisiting and selecting materials from a rich mid-century palette. An existing enclave within the living area was converted into a seating nook, defined by accents of Sapele panelling. The nook is bordered by a finely crafted 'oculus' opening, lending character to the wider circulation and curating views towards the outdoors. The project's main intention was to create a backdrop for its homeowners' tastes and personality. As such, the design looks to conserve the fundamental, mid-century character of the space, emphasising a framing of existing activity zones as opposed to radical reconfiguration.