Having seen Russian For Fish’s work featured in New Architects 3, the owners of a Surbiton cottage commissioned us to replace their existing property with a modern two-storey four-bed new-build home that complemented the existing postwar architecture on the street. Working closely with the clients – one a fan of modernism, the other more traditional – we developed a design for a contemporary home that subtly referenced the styles of the past. The brick façade plays with the window proportions, with inset brickwork evocative of window-tax era buildings, and the minimal eaves – topped with a pitch slate roof – serve to conceal the guttering. Cross-laminated timber (CLT), pre-cut in Austria, is used for the interior walls, to minimise time/costs, maximise sustainability, and suit the dimensions of the large open-plan kitchen/living/dining space on the ground floor – as well as the triple-height stairwell at the heart of the house.