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KNIGHTBRIDGE TOWNHOUSE, LONDON
Thursday 12 Jan 2012
Project Knightsbridge illustrates our ability to provide a multifaceted in house service that marries architectural and interior design seamlessly, ensuring a competent, smooth and efficient delivery.
A five storey Grade II Listed townhouse in Knightsbridge, purchased by our client in a dilapidated and structurally unsound condition.
The property required our turnkey architectural and interior design service to manage the complete modernisation, refurbishment and remodelling of the property to bring it up to both modern day standards and the clients lifestyle requirements. All remodelling and extension work had to be strategically and sympathetically designed to work with the existing character and features throughout, to ensure compliance with Listed Building, Planning and Grosvenor Estates.
Due to the clients hectic travel schedule and rarely being in the UK we worked as lead consultant, managing all members of the design team and all aspects of the project.
Our brief was to translate the client's likes, dislikes and lifestyle requirements, tailoring an architectural and interior design solution to create his perfect Central London home. The client travelled extensively with work and loved cutting edge design. Therefore, we needed to create a home that was both practical and welcoming, yet incorporated all the latest technology, enabling him to work from his home office and keep in touch with his worldwide clients. The client also required an entertainment space on the lower ground floor which would incorporate a "wellness centre", cinema, wine cellar and gym. The client liked masculine colour palettes of tea, cognac, tobacco and cocoa, as well as lighter brighter creams and champagne pallets for the more modern spaces.
Inspiration for the concept was drawn from the historical character of the building pared with the international client's modern living requirements. We wanted to introduce a "modern classic" style that was sympathetic to the period features and architecture of the house.
On the lower ground we decided to vault the ceiling in the proposed wellness area which would echo the vaults of the coal stores, whilst creating a clean lined and contemporary feel. A connection between the living room and the terrace was established, to create and indoor/outdoor feel and make the terrace a useable space. We proposed to do this by installing a glass bridge to enclose the existing light well and extend a section of the building to the party wall.
On the upper floors, more classic elements were introduced, such as dark timber panelling, inset with bronze wall paper, parquet flooring with rolled edges to look slightly aged, a handmade timber kitchen and bespoke marble slab sinks.
Design Development to Post Practical Completion
All necessary surveys were carried out, i.e. measured, drainage, asbestos, flue and acoustic and along with obtaining all necessary local authority permissions including Grosvenor Estate.
The floors on all storeys were significantly bowed before starting the project. On investigation it was discovered that this was due to key load bearing walls having been removed some time previously and supported with insufficient timber beams. There were also a number of hidden structural issues that were uncovered throughout the course of the project, due to the state and age of the building that had to be overcome with acutely informed architectural decisions and designs.
The structural calculations confirmed that each floor had to be re-supported and a new structural spine to the building was re-built. Its status as listed building meant we had to retain all the original characteristics, therefore a balance between bringing the building in line with the approval and regulations of building control and retaining original characteristics, was necessary. Part of the central structural spine was therefore removed and discreetly reinforced with steel. This in turn was strapped to each of the floors and connected to the central structure, therefore raising everything to the correct level.
The lower ground floor consisted of a maze of poorly utilised spaces with a pokey central and rear external light wells used to store air cooling condensers. The walls were opened up to maximise space and in-filled the rear light-well to maximise internal floor space. Removal of all walls surrounding the central internal light to flood the lower ground floor with natural light was essential.
This new open space was converted into a wellness area with a barrel vault ceiling, sauna, steam room, plunge pool, rain shower, techno gym and a Jacuzzi which went sitting in, looks two floors up to the glass bridge. Through the use of natural materials such as limestone, hand chiselled stone, teak accents, mirror, subtle lighting details, and natural light from the glass bridge above, we created a calm and inviting sanctuary.
Excavation was required to allow for adequate ceiling height with the new barrel vault shape, as well as implementing a new below ground drainage system which allowed for the routing of the waste from the new plunge pool and Jacuzzi to the main drains. An internally draining DPM system was installed to the entire ground floor due to the dampness of the party walls and to allow for the new wet area. New mega flows were also installed and hidden on this floor to that feed the rest of the property and the new rain showers that had been installed on the above floors.
On the lower ground floor, a silk padded acoustically lined cinema room with a floating ceiling and light details was created. Excavating the existing unusable vaults allowed us to create a bar, utility and bespoke wine cellar which also houses the servers of the Crestron controls and all other AV requirements that feed to the rest of the house.
On the ground floor the party wall was extended to create a larger guest WC with marble slab sink, pyrite gold floor and shagreen skin wallpaper. In the kitchen we installed a set of bi-fold doors in place of the bay window to create the flow of space to the new larger kitchen terrace, created by infilling the rear lightwell. The terrace was landscaped and included a new trellis to the party wall, an irrigation system, outdoor lights and custom furniture. All the existing AC units were also relocated from the lower ground floor light well and hidden behind custom trellising. The existing terrace at the front of the property was landscaped with classical English Portland stone and a formal box hedge.
To the first floor a large terrace laid with stone was created. This required the joists in the ceiling below to be strengthened to carry the new load. We connected this terrace to the living room with a glass bridge and replaced the existing windows with bi-fold doors. This bridge completely sealed in the existing internal light well and created stunning wow factor, flooding natural light through the ground floor and into the jacuzzi on the lower ground floor.
There was complete remodelling to the bedrooms and en suites located on the second, third and fourth floors to maximise the use, re-modernise and create a feeling of space and light. The roof to the property had to be replaced as it was discovered that all the existing timbers were rotting. The new slate roof had to comply with Grosvenor and Listed building regulations.
Unusual and inspiring finishes and fittings are in abundance throughout the property, providing a softness and a more classical slant to a cutting edge, contemporary scheme. Luxurious materials were specified in the design such as bamboo and silk carpet, pyrite gold tiles, footstools made from salmon skin, pony hair ottomans, walls covered in Shagreen skin, polished plaster walls.
By increasing the internal floor area from 3500 sq ft to 3800 sq ft, as well as creating two new fabulous external terraces, the property value was significantly increased. This more than covered the cost of the structural difficulties during the course of construction. The client purchased the property for £5.5million and upon completion Knight Frank valued it at £10.5million. The total project cost including all consultants fees were £3.5million so the client was very delighted with the return.