[5 houses by 5 practices] This week the AJ features five houses: three in England, one on the Isle of Man, another in Ireland, each marked by a unique materiality, whether in stone, roughcast, timber or mirrored metal
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Frame House is a project that exemplifies our practice’s interest in the idea of transforming and remodelling historic buildings in a way that allows each period, past and present, to show through.
The project is located within a row of Grade II-listed mews houses set within the Holland Park Conservation Area. The buildings date from 1865 to 1879 and were originally used to service the grand villas of Holland Park. In the 1960s, many were car garages and workshops and a decade or so later most were gradually converted into private homes.
Frame House, like its neighbours, has therefore been through many iterations. Our approach to its reconstruction for our client was based on bringing to the fore the building’s original layout and celebrating the idea of being part of a mews. We were therefore keen to complement the original spirit of these simple utilitarian buildings. This is in stark contrast to the over-designed domestic interiors more commonly seen in contemporary mews conversions, which in some way dress these working buildings as refined villas.
Externally, the front facade of Frame House was rebuilt to reinstate the identity of the house and continuity of the surrounding mews. The first floor was divided to provide a sense of its original ‘compartmentalisation’. The open ground-floor plan was divided to retain a sense of the stables that were once present. Internally, the frame walls echo the past plan-forms of this building and are aligned on the axis of original walls.
As more of the original building was revealed during construction, it was kept and incorporated into the final scheme. The internal roof insulation has been removed and placed externally under a zinc roof, allowing the original roof timbers to be exposed. As layers of refurbishment were peeled back, the existing features and fabric of the mews house were revealed, such as brick and original timbers. These have been kept and incorporated into the house.
Inside, surfaces are simple and have a sparse, utilitarian feel that is in keeping with the idea of a working mews. For the entry hallway, we specified a red-pigmented concrete floor which acts as both a workshop and display case for our client’s collection of vintage motorbikes. The hallway can be seen from within the house via a large glazed partition (the ground floor also houses the master bedroom and bathroom). Opposite the hallway, a birch plywood staircase has been inserted into a double-height space lined with black MDF.
On the first floor, a framework of timber studs is located where the original walls stood, creating an open, but layered, kitchen and living space. The original roof structure is visible above this framework and new skylights with timber cowls bring in natural light. A crisp, stainless steel kitchen contrasts with the exposed brick walls and the study is lined in Douglas fir panelling. Skilled craftsmanship elevates the modest palette of materials to create a characterful modern home.
Jonathan Tuckey, founder, and Nic Hewitt, architect, Jonathan Tuckey Design