There are not many undiscovered properties ripe for redevelopment left in North Kensington in London, so the buyers of this house were very excited to uncover this gem in the beautiful Oxford Gardens conservation area. They had found a large family house, cluttered by furniture and partitions, lacking light and warmth, and feeling slightly musty. Their brief for Sophie Nguyen Architects was to clean up and clarify the existing space, re-find the dignity of the impressive interior volumes, and let the light in. Their house needed to accommodate their busy twenty first century lifestyle whilst reaching a challenging balancing act between classic style and functionality.
The clients wanted also an extension but were keen to avoid a standard response of a glass shoebox, attached like a limpet to the rear façade.
Sophie Nguyen Architects decided to create a new single storey building extending the whole width of the main house. In the first instance, the local building authorities did not consider the whole width concept as an acceptable project. But the studio worked through a number of options and carefully liaised with the local authorities to be fully compliant with the conservation area policies. Planning permission was successfully granted without objection to the final full width scheme, which included a fully glazed façade, a double-pitched roof and, and a single pitch glass roof.
The new building remained harmonized in style with the main house and connected it fully to the large inner city garden. This also allowed for the creation of a new exceptionally wide rear volume comprising four living spaces - kitchen, dining area, formal living room, and an office.
Furthermore, several partitions were removed to include the second reception room on the west side of the house, allowing the afternoon sun to be visible from the new dining area. The roof glazing between the new extension and the rear wall of the house allows light to stream deep into the original spaces.
An ineffective landing space was removed and the door heights all increased at ground floor level - simple devices that gave the interior space dignity and volume.
Kensington house or ‘London Art de Vivre’ was eventually able to reclaim the status of a classic big mansion through a greater level of harmony and architectural rigour. The additional volumes, combined with penetration of daylight deep into the whole space have enabled the house to provide a family sanctuary in one of the biggest and frenetic European cities.
Architect: Sophie Nguyen Architects
Location: North Kensington, London
Ground Floor Area: 2,497 sq ft
Structural Engineer: Richard F. Gill & Associates
Contractor: Damian Banas
Photographs: Hufton and Crow