The building, originally designed by Morgan and Branch Architects, was purchased in 2020. The clients appointed Pricegore to rework the building and reconfigure the five-bedroom home into a more spacious three-bedroom plan.
The block originally replaced a terrace of Victorian houses. The site was excavated 1.4m deep to rediscover the split-level nature of the site and introduce more volume to the Modernist shell. Existing deep foundations meant no underpinning was required.
As a result, the living space is 3.6m high, adopting the existing Brutalist language with exposed concrete retaining walls, sills and kitchen worktops, also inspired by the Modernist homes of mid-century Brazil.
Floor-to-ceiling glazing has been introduced on the first floor. This slides back to give the formal living room a loggia-like character. Tall plants and grasses on the roof of the ground-floor extension also provide a green threshold to the room, adding a sense of privacy.
A sliding partition opens on to a cabinet-like film room which doubles up as a guest bedroom.
A pair of matching bedrooms and a bathroom sit on the second floor with an atelier-like master suite occupying the top floor.
Raw materials have been used throughout to suit the display of the clients’ art collection, including unpainted lime-rendered walls for a natural off-white finish. The clay-pot ribbed concrete slab soffits of the existing building have been revealed and limewashed, while existing concrete beams have been exposed and sand-blasted. Reclaimed timber boards line the floors of the upper levels while richly stained joinery runs throughout.
Thermal performance has been improved throughout with external insulation applied to the existing roof, breathable wood fibre insulation to the internal face of the solid brick walls, and insulated ground slabs.
An air-source heat pump provides hot water and underfloor heating while a large automated skylight, added to the existing roof, provides passive ‘chimney effect’ cooling for summer.
The garden, spread over three levels including the roof of the ground-floor extension, includes a water feature designed to soften the traffic noise of the surrounding city.
When working with an existing structure, our ambition is almost always to amplify the inherent qualities of the original architecture. We admired the rational design of this brutalist terrace and its formal expression, but the interiors needed re-tuning to contemporary life, and of course it needed total renovation in terms of thermal performance and energy efficiency.
‘We think of the project as a collaboration with the original architects, Morgan and Branch. They designed a house suited to their era and for the speculative market. Sixty years later we have reshaped it around the specific requirements of one family, and refitted it to standards that will hopefully last the next 60 years and beyond.
Dingle Price, director, Pricegore
Location London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea
Started on site August 2021
Completed December 2022
Gross internal floor area 215m²
Interior designer Pricegore
Original architect Morgan and Branch Architects
Construction cost Undisclosed
Structural engineer Engineers HRW
Services engineer P3R
Garden designer FFLO
Quantity surveyor Appleyard & Trew
Main contractor Allstruct