Walter Segal self build extension project

Adding extra space to this family home was a matter of staying true to the principles of its architect.

By Hugh Metcalf | 20 January 2021

This Walter Segal self-build house has a new addition that provides extra space for the family who own it – Taran and Celine Wilkhu, who have two children. Their home was built in the 1970s as part of a self-build community in Lewisham, London. A scheme based on a system designed by the late architect Walter Segal. The couple’s extension plans included a home office, a den for the children, and to create space for a bigger kitchen.

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

Black corrugated iron panels clad the exterior. Image: Taran Wilkhu

The exterior design conjures the idea of a negative imprint of the original building. Black metal sheets form rain screen cladding. And bright blue windows contrast with this midnight hue. This is the reverse of the main house. The green roof planting includes wildflowers to marry the building into its leafy surroundings.

The Walter Segal influence

The couple bought their home several years ago after researching the development. Taran and Celine were drawn to Segal’s approach, and Taran has subsequently contributed to a book about the Walter Segal homes. Do Segal’s methods have relevance to self builders today? ‘They are very valuable,’ says Lizzie Fraher, design director of Fraher & Findlay, the practice behind the renovation. ‘They should be seen as a guiding force for all self builders.’ The couple were keen to embrace the Segal way. It involves a simplification of design and construction and using readily available materials. By designing to a grid, as Segal did, it was easier to reshuffle the spaces, such as when relocating the front entrance. So, using affordable, off-the-shelf materials, Taran and Celine were able to project manage the build and reduce the need for specialist trades. Segal’s ideas still work to make constructing a home more accessible.

walter segal house in lewisham - extension - grand designs

The new dining space in the expanded kitchen area. Image: Taran Wilkhu