Dalston Railway Cottages

A pair of modest mid-19th Century railway workers’ cottages sit nestled between a railway cutting on one side and the large, blank flank wall of a pub on the other. The cottages occupied an almost equal floor area to their gardens which remained cut off from the living spaces due to the closed, cellular quality of the buildings’ floorplans. The cramped and cold kitchenettes, located in poorly constructed rear outriggers, were the worst aspect in these awkward layouts, acting as an obstacle between garden and home.

Due to a lucky combination of enthusiastic neighbours, Mosley Thorold Architects were appointed to rework the plan forms of both properties and make the most of their unusual and sheltered settings.

The proposals sought to stitch the homes to their gardens with more open and expansive plan forms, whilst maintaining the cosy domestic quality of the properties that had first attracted their respective owners.

After careful consideration of the uniqueness of the properties and their context, a strategy was developed which deployed subtle changes in floor and ceiling levels as a principal design tool. This enabled the scheme to maintain dedicated independent zones throughout the ground floor of each property whilst allowing a continuous flow and sightlines from the very front of the houses to the backs of their gardens. From front sitting room, through family kitchen, to garden seating to garden greenery, a continuity of space is maintained which only strengthens the sense of nestled domestic living. In amongst the major zones, small moments, such as a projected window bay, are stolen from the overarching spatial organisation.