Form Design Architecture transforms dark office complex into light-rich Covent Garden townhouse
The narrow deep plan of this tall terraced late 19th century building was ill-suited to its previous use as offices, with escape distances pre-determining the necessity for the centrally located lift and stair core that sub-divided the floor plate into small inflexible work spaces. This configuration was ideally suited to the creation of residential space, with naturally-lit rooms of domestic scale located to the front and rear, and support spaces located inboard around the retained central stairs and lift. A use further suggested by the domestic style of the Dutch-gabled brick front elevation.
A change of use was therefore recommended by the architect to the developer client, with planning consent subsequently granted, contrary to local policy, for the creation of a luxurious 4-bedroom house. Subtle changes to the section of the building have created external spaces and allowed natural light to penetrate deep into the plan. These include the creation of a soaring 6m double-height kitchen/dining space opening onto a small new ground floor courtyard; the replacement of the original hipped roof with an additional split-level studio floor - with terraces front and rear; and the creation of an entry courtyard recessed behind a decorative metal screen that echoes the proportions and format of a shopfront on the pavement line.
Redundant storage spaces in the artificially-lit lower ground floor have been given new life as a state-of-the-art cinema and gym; with sophisticated systems throughout the house providing control of lighting, AV, blinds, heating/air con and blinds via hand-held tablets. Fastidious detailing and a limited palette of high quality materials, together with a fire-engineered approach to layout (removing the necessity for lobbies), have helped to create a calm restful interior with a good spatial flow between the six floors of accommodation.