Behind the Schemes: The grand revival of an historic Bloomsbury townhouse

How Quinn Architects returned a Grade II* listed building to its original grandeur after two centuries of alteration and poor repairs…

Shoreditch-based studio Quinn Architects has completed a major restoration and contemporary extension of a Georgian Grade II* listed Bloomsbury townhouse, creating a family home for two fashion directors and their young children. Here, the team talks us through the ambitious heritage project, from original concept to finished article, explaining how modern interventions were interwoven to allow for a “soft encounter” between new and old…

Overview

Two centuries of alteration and poor repairs had reduced the architectural clarity of the original design. We wove new interventions into the history of the property while returning the building back to the original state of a single family dwelling. The modification of the lower ground floor and basement optimised the usage of available floor space, and in turn maximised new spaces that were previously overlooked.

We also reconfigured the rear of the home, transforming a dated annex into a modern dramatic double-height kitchen and mezzanine centred around a new courtyard. The large bow sash windows frame the rear elevation to bring light and fresh air into the heart of the kitchen.

The Concept

A succession of poor quality refurbishments had left unresolved and underlying issues with the property’s structure and existing listed items. The historical and architectural significance of the property as well as its position in the surrounding area was crucial to developing our approach to this renovation. Original spaces have been recovered from unsympathetic alterations while new spaces have been added both internally and to the outside courtyard.

Located within the Bloomsbury Conservation Area, this five-storey townhouse faithfully adheres to classical architectural principles. We took the opportunity to acknowledge this historical detailing within our designs for the new rear courtyard and terrace paving layout, which were adapted from the proportions found in the adjacent Georgian sash windows. The project is intended to be a soft encounter between new and old in celebration of the existing fabric.

The Modern Extension

At the rear of the property we introduced a contemporary mews and link that forms the family’s kitchen and playroom, opening on to a landscaped external courtyard.

The annex and link facades are made up of hand applied Lime render with double glazed thermally broken steel doors and windows, whilst the lime render finish allows the existing brick facade in the lower ground courtyard to blend with the new construction.

The existing terrace is stripped of it’s poor quality terrace tiles and exposed drain, and replaced by Portland stone paving slabs with concealed linear drainage.

A practical approach was adopted for the materials used for the annex roof. Existing slates were used wherever possible, and new ones to match. The addition of a full width conservation skylight lead flashes into the adjoining walls allows light to penetrate through to the new kitchen and family room below.

Interiors

We took over the full design and fabrication of the kitchen and its furniture, and all joinery and wardrobes throughout the property for quality and control over their installation in such a sensitive setting.

To carefully compose transitions between old and new, we ensured continuity throughout the interiors with a palette of neutral and natural materials. Everything is completely bespoke including all doors and windows which have been produced to rigorous and exacting details.

The existing panelling, doors and architraves were stripped back to it’s original state and inspected to be carefully refurbished. New panelling was created using furniture grade birch plywood and repainted in warm grey tones. Modern touches were woven in to the kitchen, such as marble worktops, oak lipped laminate doors and a European oak balustrade.

Project Teamsheet

Architect: Quinn Architects
Interior Designer: Quinn Architects
Project Management: Quinn Architects
Quantity Surveyor: CBE Partnership
M&E Consultant: Chris Evans Consulting
Controls/AV Consultant: Digitec Solutions
Landscape Designer: Quinn Architects
Main Contractor: R. W. Armstrong
Electrical Contractor: MIB Electrical
Lighting Consultant: Quinn Architects

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