Paul Archer Design



A sculptural red bridge makes a dramatic entrance for this modern home in Hertfordshire.


Having self-built the property in 1981, our clients commissioned Paul Archer Design to rejuvenate and extend the house, having served many years as a rental property. The house has been significantly altered into a spacious, light-filled home, offering expansive views of the garden.

The transformation of Willowbrook exceeded the clients’ expectations by achieving a unique contemporary home while preserving echoes of the original build.

Project description

The interior spaces have been reworked to offer flexibility in living arrangements, to ensure each zone of the house is utilised to its full potential. The front hallway has been relocated to form a central spine to the property, while also allowing for the rooms on the upper floors to be more readily accessible. Additional floor space has been added to the side wing, with sliding partitions to reveal and hide private dwellings to accommodate guests. Roof lights have been added along with double-height glazing to emphasise the new, additional height while also flooding the property with natural light.

Outside, a sculptural red steel bridge leads to the main entrance of the house, spanning across a lower courtyard beneath the driveway. Throughout the property, there is a recurring connection to the property’s surroundings—firmly rooting the building in the greenery beyond the windows.

During the process of rebuilding Willowbrook, we discovered a number of failing elements on site that could have led to significant issues in future. We were fortunate to be able to correct these issues and improve the overall structure while also upgrading the sustainability of the property. As the owners had overseen the building for its whole lifespan, we carefully considered the use of materials, utilising reclaimed brickwork mixed within new, to preserve a personal connection to the original structure.

Material design

Inspired by origami, the bridge is constructed from folded steel, with no visible fixtures. It is intentionally ambiguous in shape and was the result of many small maquettes developed in-house. Providing a strong, geometric entrance to the property, the bridge is coated in marine-grade paint to ensure it stands the test of time.


Before GIFA
215 sqm
After GIFA
230 sqm
£3,969 / sqm
Structural Engineer
Fluid Structures
Matt Chisnall / Nick Gutteridge

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