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A mews bouche: Southwick Yard by Belsize Architects

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A full-height lightwell draws daylight into this tight mews site in Paddington

A small one-bedroom mews cottage on this secluded mews site in Connaught Village on the Hyde Park Estate, west London, was demolished in order to build this new four-bedroom house with a basement.

A lightwell was introduced in order to draw enough light into the tight site, which sits between five and six-storey buildings. This doubles as a small external courtyard at basement level. A glass staircase that sits below a skylight also helps distribute light across the floors. 

Externally the home is finished in brick, with the ground floor clad in Shou-Sugi-Ban, a Japanese charred timber treatment that contrasts with the pale brick. This has been worked into a series of remote-controlled moving panels that can control light and privacy into the ground-floor living space.


Southwick Yard by Belsize Architects

Source: Will Scott Photography

Architect’s view

The site previously contained a small, drab one-bedroom mews cottage in Southwick Yard, which offered very limited opportunities for occupancy due to its poor layout and state of repair. In developing the site for the Church Commissioners, Belsize Architects advised that demolishing and replacing the building – rather than extending or remodelling it – and adding a basement would maximise the site’s potential.

The ground floor has been extended beyond the previous property’s footprint into the courtyard, providing more room for spacious open-plan living. Opening from the entrance lobby, a reception area with hardwood flooring leads through to a large kitchen and breakfast bar area. This space is lit from above by skylights and two sets of double full-length windows with remotely controlled timber louvres that, when open, fill the room with natural light. At other times the louvres can be closed to give complete privacy, and give the house a secluded appearance when viewed from the street.

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Southwick Yard by Belsize Architects, ground floor plan

Ground floor plan

On the first floor, maximum use has been made of the available space to create two double bedrooms (one en-suite) and a family bathroom. The second bedroom is dual aspect and features a large window overlooking the courtyard. The mews courtyard is paved with a mixture of traditional cobbles, preserved as a historic asset, and granite sets. A contemporary planter helps to frame the new off-street parking and approach to the house.

As well as retaining existing party walls associated with the adjacent buildings, and reusing materials wherever possible, Belsize Architects used the extension and remodelling as an opportunity to execute a number of eco-friendly actions. A primary example of this is the incorporation of green roofs to the ground and first floors to provide a sanctuary for local wildlife and complement the recent development at 2 Hyde Park Street opposite, which also features a green roof.

Other eco-friendly actions include the use of a high-performance energy-efficient boiler, high-performance insulation, argon-filled double-glazing, and sustainably sourced timber and other construction materials.

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Southwick Yard by Belsize Architects, section BB

Section BB

Project data

Start on site February 2016
Completion November 2017
Gross internal area 141.2m²
Form of contract JCT SBC WCD
Construction cost £700,000
Architect Belsize Architects
Client The Church Commissioners
Local authority City of Westminster
Structural engineer TWS
Mechanical services engineer JDA
Main contractor PJ Harte
M&E Under control of main contractor
Quantity surveyor Cox Drew Neal
Planning consultant JLL
CDM co-ordinator JLL
Project manager JLL
Landscape Belsize Architects / PJ Harte
CAD software used AutoCAD 

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