Looking to adapt a 1970s Walter Segal Method self build for modern living, Fraher & Findlay architects employed a reverent design philosophy. 

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

Image: Taran Wilkhu

Taran and Celine Wilkhu, who have two children aged six and nine, wanted to extend to add a home office, a den for the children, and to create space for a bigger kitchen.

Their home was originally built in the 1970s as part of a small community of self-builds in Lewisham, London, based on a system designed by the late architect Walter Segal. Although Taran and Celine didn't build this house, having bought their home several years ago after researching the houses, they were drawn to Segal’s approach, and Taran has even been involved in publishing a book about the properties he designed.

Read more: Walters Way: take a tour of this self build street in Lewisham

The Walter Segal Method

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

Image: Taran Wilkhu 

Does Segal's methods have relevance to contemporary self builders? 'They are very valuable,' says Lizzie Fraher, design director of Fraher & Findlay, the architects behind the renovation. 'They should be seen as a guiding force for all self builders.'

In fact, the history of the house informed everything. The couple really wanted to fully embrace the Segal method, which involves a simplification of design and construction, and using readily available materials. By designing to a grid, as Segal intended, it was easier to reshuffle the spaces when relocating the front entrance. 

Only affordable, off-the-shelf materials were used, which minimised the need for specialist trades and made it easier for Taran and Celine to project manage the build. Segal’s ideas have the power to make constructing a home more accessible.

Modern living 

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

Image: Taran Wilkhu

As part of the renovation of the house, a narrow extension, at some points just 1.2m wide, acts to enhance the quality of the living spaces. 

Because the gradient of the plot their garden is at a lower level than the house, the extension was also needed to bridge this difference and offer easier access to the garden plot. 

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

Image: Taran Wilkhu

The design conjures the idea of a negative imprint of the existing building by inverting the panelled colour cladding. Metal sheets have been used as a rain screen cladding, with bright blue windows contrasting to the black extension.

The roof has been planted with wildflowers to marry the building into its green surroundings from above. 

'It is a slim extension that runs the depth of the building but provides an important tool to link the levels of the garden and the house,' explains Lizzie. 'It tucks extra accommodation such as a den under the body of the existing house. The cladding is a black with the windows a blue which was the inverse of the existing building.'


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