The Lawns is a modern house set in the midst of the Highgate Conservation Area. The design wraps extensions around the core of an existing 1950s detached house, one of a group of three designed and built in the 1950s by Leonard Manasseh, and doubling its internal area. This strategy complements the patterns of modern life and of two generations of family members and provides a holistic improvement to the whole site. The project, for Frances and John Sorrell, formerly Chairman of the Design Council, was completed in August 2000 after Eldridge Smerin successfully obtained planning consent for a strongly contemporary design.Responding to a brief to increase family living space as well as a sizeable retreat to work, the design vision encompasses every aspect of the house from the organisation of space to the provision of custom-designed furniture. The new extensions expand the original ground floor area to include three double height and predominantly glazed volumes that provide a dramatic new entrance to the house as well as generous natural light.
Discreetly divided zones with concealed doors for subdivision enable the house to be intimate in parts and open in others as the occasion demands. The complex plan interweaving the space achieves an overall clarity and simplicity. Furthermore, without any element of starkness found in some modernist buildings, the living environment now enables each family member and visitor to enjoy open plan space that is adjustable for specific needs and functions.