Sculptural and sustainable 1970s house transformation

Project details


Little Kingshill, Buckinghamshire









Samarkand is a retrofit and refurbishment of an existing 1970s house on the outskirts of the village of Little Kingshill in Buckinghamshire. A detached home set in a substantial plot, the original house had been built using reclaimed London stock brick and extended in the 1980s with a painted timber side gable-ended addition.


The client, a couple with young children, approached Napier Clarke Architects to carry out an initial feasibility on the site to determine whether to demolish and rebuild, or to redesign and upgrade the existing house. The key concerns were to improve the appearance of the brick itself and to create a coherent family home that would be contemporary and contextual.


Retaining the existing footprint and structure, the project reworks and refreshes the original house to maximise the budget and minimise the embodied carbon. The design restores the form of the house by inserting a glazed link that separates the volume into two parts – the 1970s brick building and the later gable-ended addition. The entrance is relocated to the centre of the link as a pivot between the two wings.



AYA Individual House

Architect of the Year – Shortlisted


RIBA Regional Award – Winner

Best Green Building

Chiltern Award – Winner


British Homes Award – Shortlisted

Samarkand house's balcony with its steel railings at the rear of the house, leading off from one of the bedrooms.


The most significant change is with the 1980s addition. This has been reclad using charred timber weatherboarding to become its own characterful and sculptural element. The first floor windows have been closed off and the garage is now a utility space, with one horizontal window to the front elevation. The timber is designed to reference the material, scale and form of vernacular agricultural buildings and barns nearby. Across the building, the window apertures have been dropped to floor level to create a greater sense of connection with the garden and the performance of the building has been upgraded with a new reinsulated slate roof and new glazing.


Charcoal black, found within the original colours of the brickwork, is used to bring the distinct elements of the building together – in the new cladding, glazing frames, balcony ironwork to the rear, external planters and decking. These contrasting black finishes continue inside with the steel stair, kitchen units, internal panelling and bespoke joinery. This striking redesign of the interior complements the more generous, newly opened spaces and reworked circulation around the glazed link and stair to the front of the plan, creating a spacious renewed home that is sustainable and light-touch.

Existing and Proposed structure

The existing 1970s house before Napier Clarke Architects' renovation and overhaul.Samarkand house has two distinct volumes, one the original 1970s brick house, then the other the previous 1980s extension. They are separated by a glass link.

‘Napier Clarke Architects has shown a great eye, working with the original house to reclaim worthy elements while modernising the overall look in a simple yet considered design that ties together beautifully as a whole. Internally, the practice simplified the convoluted floorplan and created a spacious well thought out house which flows effortlessly between living areas, is flooded with natural light and is a pleasure to live in. We are delighted with our new home.’

Hannah & Ed Ayre

The new steel and timber tread staircase inside the hallway. It passes in front of two windows that flood the space with daylight.View along the first floor corridor with internal black timber cladding at Samarkand.


Site plan

Site plan showing the black roof volumes of Samarkand house.

Existing ground floor plan

First floor plan of Samarkand house, Buckinghamshire.

Completed ground floor plan

Ground floor plan of Samarkand, Buckinghamshire.

Existing first floor plan

Completed first floor plan


Design Team

Structural Engineer – RWA consulting

Services – Napier Clarke Design intent


Joakim Boren