A small white building sits tucked among the trees in rural Kent, England. Formed in a traditional A-frame shape, the structure would blend easily with its neighbours if not for the dramatic window covering half the front facade. The mix of modern and tradition is a key component of Over the Edge, a home extension designed by British-French architect Jonathan Burlow.
The design of the dwelling was based on 18th century grain storage buildings commonly found around this part of England. The silos were separated a bit from the main house and raised on stone platforms to protect their contents. Over the Edge is the modern version of this storage structure: the small building apart from the main house and is slightly lifted above the ground.
Over the Edge appears at once both ordinary and dramatic. The small, simple building lies neatly with the adjacent residence, its design referencing the original structure in both colour and form. Yet the architecture also feels a bit abstract, even unusual, in its quiet garden habitat. The building is set on a large concrete platform, a powerful choice, as it allows the modest building to appear as if floating just above the ground. The platform has a smooth, silky surface that glistens after a rainfall, reflecting its inhabitant across the surface. The design has a Zen quality to it that reminds us more of Eastern architecture than English farm buildings. The pitched roof is a decidedly traditional element in the otherwise contemporary design of Over the Edge. The roof serves as a contextual reference to the region’s architecture while also uniting the new building with the original home behind it.
From afar, the white facade looks smooth, but on closer investigation is revealed to be white brick. The brick is neatly stacked in linear rows running from floor to ceiling, a reference to the storage style of grain sacks found in this part of the country. The white brick continues in the entryway, keeping a consistent narrative from exterior to interior.
Inside, white walls sit atop polished concrete floors. The clean, monochromatic interior allows the surrounding gardens to take centre stage. The oversized windows look out to a lush green landscape and soft gravel road. Over the Edge is a lovely pairing of opposites: old and new, smooth and rough, simple and complex.