Can historical homes be redesigned to truly accommodate modern living?
With their bay windows, towers, turrets and overwhelming ornateness, Victorian homes do not lack in charm. But, as is the catch-22 with actually living in any historical residence, these structures often fall short on fulfilling modern-day living needs and desires. Seeking a strategy for building a more accommodating space while simultaneously minding a number of planning restrictions, a London family turned to Flow Architecture and Magrits to extensively redevelop a period property in Kensington.
Challenging the ‘traditional’ way of residing in historical spaces, the architecture and design teams nearly completely demolished and reconstructed the existing four-storey house while protecting its façade. Built in 1851 – on the early side of the Victorian era – the end-of-terrace dwelling, set within the Abingdon Conservation Area, is a generous 290-sq-m. Dissatisfied with its lack of light circulation and compartmentalized layout, the residents asked for spatial planning that would permit a certain fluidity in the vertically-stacked living spaces and a maximum allowance of natural light.
Post-transformation, the home’s organization revolves around a new interior courtyard. It is the visual centre to peripheral living spaces, which handsomely spotlight the client’s growing art collection. A series of double-height spaces bring focus to cross-views throughout the living quarters and the staircase opens up toward the bottom to create an orderly sequence of entertainment areas. And, to bolster the new spatial functionality even further, Flow and Magrits added a basement and double-height rear extension.
The rear extension, implemented using light-weight glass, strengthens the relationship between interior and exterior. Panoramic sliding doors installed in the dining room look out to a 175-sq-m terrace garden featuring an astute walnut tree. Glass-reinforced concrete panels cladding the walls fold to form a curved bench and the stairs leading to the garden; the treatments, including vertical perforations in the courtyard, enable daylight to permeate the interiors.
Flow Architecture and Magrits’ redevelopment successfully retains the legacy of the 19th century home and ensures that it will not only survive, but be appreciated by its residents, for the 100 years to come.