A sensitive response in a London mews by Peter Aldington
1971 August: House at Holland Park by Aldington and Craig
Replacement of an existing, 14ft 9in deep, 24ft long, two-storey mews house, facing east and blind on all other sides, which
forms end of a terrace of three. Town planning requirements Within a designated conservation area, the existing line and scale of the terrace to be maintained. No projections to exceed the 9in existing balconies along the street frontage.
To demolish existing two-storey house and replace it with a three-storey building plus basement, visually occupying as near as possible the same volume. Cornice line of existing terrace to be respected and extra floor to be mansarded with exposed roof timbers to emphasise its character as a roof space and fulfil its function as a studio. This top floor to have access from a first-floor flat, from the street and from the main house by means of a double interlocking staircase. Self-contained first-floor flat to have its own street access (as well as to the studio) and not to overlook garden of the main house. Single garage for use by the flat and double garage for the main house with pedestrian access from the garden.
This complicated brief was to allow the mews house to be let either as one unit or as a flat with the studio retained in use by the main house. Any extension necessary to provide extra depth for the garage (terrace depth only 14ft 9in maximum) not to be provided in the form of a continuous projection obtruding itself into the garden of the main house.
Second-floor studio with access to garden of main house and to street from two-way, double stairoase. First-floor, self-contained single-bedroomed flat with access to studio and street. Kitchen housed in an oriel borrowing air space from but not overlooking the garden of main house. Similar clip-on but shallower oriels used for street elevation windows. Garages, with vehicular access to street and pedestrian access to main house, extended on garden front to contain noses of cars also by means of three top-lit, clip-on oriels. Basement with access to studio floor, garage and main house.
In a different context-a London mews Peter Aldington has produced an equally sensitive response. The mews
house usually presents two problems. Firstly that of tight planning-getting a quart into a pint pot, and secondly designing street and back garden elevations to be seen in confined spaces.
The brief was complicated by the requirement that the top-floor studio could be used independently with access to it from the garden of the main house.
The plan and particularly the cross-over staircase is ingenious in that it solves this problem at the same time taking up minimum floor area and frontage. The studio has a clearly-organised roof structure made of pine members and plywood, and the sloping patent glazing on either side brings with it views into tree branches in the garden and over the roofscape of the mews. Additional space on the ground and first floor has been squeezed out by the use ofprojecting oriels, some of which are windows, some blind and covered with lead. The elegance of the total result is a lesson to every architect faced with small-scale infill problems.
Second-floor studio: 273 sq ft (25-4m²).
First-floor dining/kitchen: 66 sq ft
Living room: 140-5 sqft (13-Om²).
Bedroom: 63 sq ft (5’9 rn²).
Garage: 267 sq ft (24’ 8 m²).
Basement: 200 sq ft (18’ 6 m²).
Total circulation: 18-5 sq ft (1-7 m²).
Total floor area: 1123 sq ft (104’ 3 m²).
Integral double and single garages.
Waterproofed concrete basement forming a box foundation under two-thirds of the structure with cantilevered beams in the front and back walls supporting the rest of the building. Loadbearing brickwork to ground and flrst floor with rc slabs and edge beams. Top floor has brickwork up to sill height and timber trusses carrying the patent glazing and the roof.
The roof consists of 3in by 3in planed joists at 12in centres supported by the trusses.
Electric underfloor heating to first and second floors.
Externally, Lunsford sand-faced, blue-brown seconds bricks (normally used for paving), board-finished rc edge beams. Double-glazed aluminium patent glazing, top floor. Single-glazed ordinary plate with anodised aluminium frames to opening lights on first floor. Timber-framed, black-stained, clip-on oriels with lead-covered, solid panels.
Garage doors timber-framed, covered with plastic weatherboarding. Internally, fair-faced, white-painted blockwork to first and second floors, elsewhere unpainted. Douglas fir treads and risers to staircase. Carpeted first floor and vinyl tiled second floor.
Exposed Douglas fir trusses and roof lining second floor, and in si tu concrete board-marked beams ground floor and
£12200 (£9 per sq ft).
Aldington and Craig
Partner-in-charge: Peter Aldington.
Quantity surveyor: Peter Gardner of G. A. Hanscomb Partnership.
Structural engineer: Stephen Tietz of S. B. Tietz & Partners.
Landscape: John Craig.
Journalist and wife with three children.
Twentieth Century Architects
The C20 Society, with English Heritage and RIBA Publications, has published a monograph on the work of Aldington, Craig and Collinge, by Alan Powers (December 2009) .
The C20 Society campaigns for the preservation of post 1914 buildings, find out more and become a member on the C20 website.