Urban housing, Westminster,
London, UK, 2010

The building was originally a tight-skinned 1950s office building. To change it into a place for living in the heart of the West End entailed significant adjustment to enhance the building's thermal performance and level of protection. Adding depth to the wall and changing the proportions of the windows increased the sense of enclosure and attenuated the proximity of adjacent buildings. The decision to use dark render for the facade evolved from observing the soot-faced brickwork of some of the buildings in the area. For our client, this gave the building a marketable identity.

The project focused on light-touch alterations to bring the buildings back into use: in the Victorian building we revealed the boarded floors, added dado lining, exposed the moulding previously hidden behind ducting and added panelled doors to join the existing. We added lino to the building from the 1960s and adopted flush detailing to joinery. To the building at the rear we added an over-cladding of grey-brown insulated render. The yard is reminiscent of the inner blocks of Swiss and German cities, where working buildings that house daytime activities are controlled at night by closed gates.

Project duration: 2002-2007
Contract value: £2 million
Gross internal area: 1,225 m2

Photographs: David Grandorge