Ask the ex­pert

Country Life Every Week - - Interiors Focus - Mark Wat­son, ar­chi­tect, Wat­son, Ber­tram & Fell (01225 337273;

Ar­chi­tect Mark Wat­son tells Amelia Thorpe about the lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties of glass

When is glass the best so­lu­tion for adding to the foot­print of a build­ing?

To punch light into the heart of a build­ing, glass is ideal. Any ex­ten­sion will in­crease space, of course, but a glass one can trans­form the dark­est in­te­rior and bring a house alive. Glass can also be used to cre­ate an al­most seam­less con­nec­tion with the gar­den.

What is the best way to in­te­grate a glass ad­di­tion into an ex­ist­ing build­ing?

I like to take de­tails of the house and reimag­ine it in a modern way. The con­ser­va­tory at the listed re­gency villa, San­dridge Park (right), has con­tem­po­rary slid­ing glass screens within an ex­ter­nal struc­ture sup­ported by fluted cast-iron col­umns, as a re­work­ing of an orig­i­nal ve­ran­dah. From the in­side, the glass cre­ates the modern im­pact; from the out­side, the struc­ture re­spects the orig­i­nal build­ing. The roof of the con­ser­va­tory is ex­tended at one end to cre­ate an al­fresco eat­ing area, with the cast-iron col­umns run­ning all the way around to con­tinue the rhythm of the de­sign.

What does glass bring to an in­te­rior?

By in­tro­duc­ing nat­u­ral light, glass can have ma­jor im­pact on ev­ery in­te­rior, but the best glaz­ing so­lu­tion will de­pend on the style of build­ing. For ex­am­ple, con­ser­va­tion roof lights are gen­er­ally the only per­mis­si­ble way of get­ting light into a roof void in a listed build­ing.

A roof lantern works well on a flat roof ex­ten­sion, be­cause it al­lows light to flow into the heart of the room. How­ever, be­ware the ‘black hole’ at night: lights around the in­side perime­ter of the lantern open­ing will ad­dress this and al­low the lantern it­self to be­come the light source.

Barn con­ver­sions are no­to­ri­ously dark, be­cause few win­dows are gen­er­ally per­mit­ted by plan­ners, so it’s im­por­tant to make the most of the barn-door open­ings with max­i­mum glaz­ing.

A con­ser­va­tory or or­angery can make an ex­cel­lent ex­ten­sion to your kitchen or liv­ing space and my pref­er­ence is for fully glazed walls and doors. Slid­ing fold­ing doors and sub­tle means of ven­ti­la­tion make it easy to con­trol the en­vi­ron­ment, are eas­ier to main­tain than glass roofs and glass screens can of­fer a won­der­ful sense of ‘wow’.

Crit­tall-style win­dows and French doors can work beau­ti­fully by a small court­yard gar­den, be­cause they con­tain the space, in con­trast to the sense of seam­less flow cre­ated by a min­i­mal­ist glazed panel open­ing up on to a large vista.

In both sce­nar­ios, how­ever, it’s worth light­ing plants, a sculp­ture or in­ter­est­ing ex­te­rior fea­ture to draw the eye and avoid cre­at­ing the ‘black hole’ ef­fect from the in­te­rior at night.

The San­dridge Park con­ser­va­tory may be con­tem­po­rary in style, but it re­spects the de­sign of the orig­i­nal listed bui­lid­ing

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