March 8, 2021

Architectural Glazing for Difficult London Plots

Written by Rebecca Clayton

Minimal sliding doors London new build home

How IQ work around awkward spaces and develop new applications to suit these unique spaces found in cities


Densely populated areas, such as London, often rely on extending upwards due to limited space and awkward plot sizes. Every product and system from IQ Glass has been developed with flexibility in mind, to ensure we can accommodate these specialised projects and create bespoke results. 


Unique London home with strip rooflight and minimal bifold doorsAt IQ Glass, we are always developing new applications for our glazing systems and pushing architectural boundaries to achieve the best results. Like our Spiral House project, aptly named because of the continuous brick wall that surrounds the perimeter of the single-story home before moving inwards to form a spiral shape. We installed slim framed bifolding doors on one elevation of the inner wall, allowing the natural light to flow into the living space from the outside area between the brick walls.


Instead of problematic, we like to view projects of this nature as an opportunity. For buyers, often these properties are offered at a reduced cost due to the lack of competition when buying them. When presented with a tricky or awkward piece of land, our designers consider every aspect to determine how to make the most of the space, thinking outside of the [glass] box [extension]. There are many factors that can define an awkward plot, here we will explore what these factors are as well as our approach to working with them.


Neighbouring Properties


It can be difficult to obtain planning permission in urban areas like London, particularly in terraced homes where there are neighbours on either side of the property. Architecturally designed extensions or renovations are more likely to be approved, with expert attention to detail ensuring there are no negative impacts on the wider area.


Basement renovation with glass doors leading onto sunken garden courtyardFor the best chance of having planning permission approved, the scale of the extension should be in keeping with the surrounding dwellings and the available space should be maximised. This could mean utilising basement or attic space to expand the usable space of a home. Where basement renovation projects are specified, IQ Glass can provide walk-on floorlights, which allow natural light into the otherwise dark, underground spaces. We completed a project in Paddington where the architect specified large frameless floorlights in conjunction with slim framed sliding door systems to bring an abundance of natural light into the newly renovated basement space.


Extending upwards is a great way to expand the usable space without altering the footprint of a property, with roof glazing technologies allowing us to achieve truly unique rooftop extensions. The MARS (modern automated rooflight system) is a perfect sliding solution for granting rooftop access and creating stunning rooftop gardens. The HERA (high-spec electric rooflight automation) is a box rooflight design that is equally as suitable for creating sky gardens or providing roof access. Often in densely populated areas such as London, garden spaces are lacking and the only way to gain this valuable space is by extending upwards. Both rooflight systems can be specified with a number of technical integrations, have little to no limitations on size and follow an extremely minimal design.


Ecclectic London home design with slim sliding doors and clerestory windowsGlass is a great choice for extensions of this nature due to its transparent properties. Planning permission is more likely to be granted for projects that utilise architectural glazing in place of traditional brick walls, as glass does not alter the overall appearance in the same way another building material would.


When terraced homes specify large elevations of glazing, privacy is another factor to consider. In London, most homes overlook their neighbours and it is a good idea to consider other measures such as fences or recessed designs to eliminate any issues surrounding lack of privacy.




Modern glass rear renovation to London townhouseWhen starting work on a project, IQ Glass will always ask about access to the property and specifically the elevation that we are installing the glazing to. Often access is not considered before works start and this can be a costly mistake that homeowners will want to avoid where possible. If the entire floor of a terraced home is being renovated, it is a good idea to work out with your builder or project manager the order in which things will be installed. For example, if it’s possible to leave a large structural opening for our team to carry the glass through, this is preferable.


Many people in central London choose not to own a car. This means that properties with driveway spaces can repurpose this land to expand the useable living space. Where driveways are required or are present to the side of a home, extensions can be planned to sit on top of the driveway space. Another solution is basement parking, which most plots will allow for, saving surface space for other things.


Historic Features


Slim framed structural glass roof to basement renovationMany London homes benefit from historic architectural features, whether this is a functioning pillar that provides support to the dwelling and creates a grand entrance design or an unusable well that has been covered up. If these features are discovered when building works commence, it can be tricky to decide whether to work around them or remove them, which can be costly.


Architectural glazing can be used to enhance these features, with full glass floors able to display unusual design features underground. An example of this would be some sort of well or ice pit, being preserved underneath a full glass floor to create a unique design feature. The team at IQ loves to get creative when it comes to historic attributes, always striving to create innovative displays that are fully functional.




ground floor bedroom with sliding glass doors to london home renovationAnother aspect of difficult London plots that we often come across is views. Views from the internal living space, views of the neighbouring properties, and even views of the glazing from the garden space.


In cities, it is common for a plot to sit on a slope, with the garden sloping downwards away from the house. Many of our projects have opted for an upside-down layout, with bedrooms on the ground floor and living spaces on the first floor in order to maximise the surrounding views.


Utilising structural glazing grants the ability to benefit from uninterrupted views within the home, with only neat silicone joints visible between panes in entire walls of glass. The best way to maximise garden views is by reducing the amount of visible frames and allowing the glass to be the primary feature within any glazing installations. Each of our systems has been designed with minimal frames in mind and we are able to offer completely frameless solutions as well as slim framed aluminium and steel systems.




Solar Control CoatingsFinally, the orientation of these homes is of paramount importance when embarking on a project. Not only does this affect how much natural light the property will benefit from, but also whether solar control solutions are required and whether the homeowners can reduce energy and heating costs by including glazing. If the glazing is south facing, IQ always includes solar control coatings on the glass as standard to eliminate the risk of overheating.


In these awkward plots, the home is often long and narrow. These spaces can be difficult to incorporate natural light and often the best solution is a rooflight, which can be manufactured to fit any shape or size. In our Redmans Road project, architectural glazing was utilised within the unique roof structure, to create glass panels in a circular shape around the concrete roof structure. This allowed natural light to flow into the living space from every angle, without altering the original roof structure.


If you have a project that requires specialist glazing to maximise the awkward or tricky plot, get in touch with the team to discuss your requirements. Our years of experience and proven expertise in the area offers peace of mind that we are fully equipped to work on these specialist projects.