airport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar
Sign In
© Edmund Sumner
© Edmund Sumner
Save to wishlist

This Renovated Period Home in London Has a Surprising Secret Garden

Picture of Charlotte Luxford
Home & Design Editor
Updated: 18 December 2017
This might look like a normal terraced London home from the outside, but behind closed doors, this architect’s house has a unique secret garden that’s transformed this Grade-II listed Georgian townhouse into something special.

The addition of an impressive two-storey extension at the rear of the property has been created by Tonkin Liu architects, which has been designed as both a home for the partners’ family but also as a studio for the practice; it showcases to potential clients just what the firm is capable of and is an inviting and inspiring space to discuss ideas.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Greg_Storrar_(2)
© Greg Storrar
Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Edmund_Sumner
© Edmund Sumner

The ‘Sun Rain Rooms’ has a distinctive curved roof that’s both aesthetically pleasing as well as practical. The design allows for maximum daylight to flood into the patio garden, plus the rainwater that gathers at the top of the townhouse then falls down the drainpipe and works its way along the curved edge of the extension roof, ending up in a long rainwater harvesting tank.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(3)
© Edmund Sumner

This innovative recycling of rainwater means that the tank can flood the patio at the touch of the button, which then transforms it into a beautiful reflecting pool. This aquatic theme continues on the inside of the extension too, with distinctive skylights being surrounded by a ripple design in the ceiling that reflects the raindrops landing in the pool.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(6)
© Edmund Sumner

‘It is a good place to be on a bad day,’ says Tonkin Liu. ‘The extension accommodates both prosaic and poetic aspects of domestic and studio rituals.’

Under this sheltered part of the extension, the garden room doubles up as both a calm living space for the family to retreat to and also as an inspiring meeting space for the partners to share their ideas with clients.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner
© Edmund Sumner
Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(7)
© Edmund Sumner

A mirrored wall of sliding glass doors runs along one side of the garden, which not only makes the exterior appear larger than it actually is but also echoes the overall theme of reflection.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(15)
© Edmund Sumner
Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Greg_Storrar_(4)
© Edmund Sumner

The mirrored doors cleverly conceal the studio’s workshop, a potting shed, store cupboard, cooking area and also a deep planter for the smaller trees and plants that sit upon the green roof of the extension.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(8)
© Edmund Sumner
Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Edmund_Sumner_(14)
© Edmund Sumner

Underneath the patio sits the basement, which has been extended to create an additional bedroom, two bathrooms and a light-well that’s been filled with plants to add greenery to the space and to provide a feature for the lower-level bedroom. Plenty of glass has been used throughout the space to make it feel as light and airy as possible and plants are a recurring feature throughout the home to enhance the connection between outside and inside.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Edmund_Sumner_(8)
© Edmund Sumner
Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room_©_Edmund_Sumner_(7)
© Edmund Sumner

‘The green roof, garden room, reflecting pool and sunken light-well form a multi-layered urban garden, both celebrating and bringing people closer to nature,’ add the architects.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(2)
© Edmund Sumner

To see more of Tonkin Liu’s work, visit the practice’s website here, and read more on how to introduce plants into your home here.

Tonkin_Liu_Sun_Rain_Room©_Edmund_Sumner_(10)
© Edmund Sumner