Shortlisted for last year’s AJ Retrofit Awards, West Architecture’s House of Layers restores and refurbishes an early Victorian grade II-listed house
Sitting next to Regent’s Canal in Islington, this Victorian house has been sensitively restored by West Architecture.
Interventions have been made in a material palette of walnut cabinetry and limestone with touches of brass and bronze detailing.
A new staircase replaces the previous timber one and has been constructed from three pieces of Mirabelle limestone which combine to create a simple structural arch spanning the length of the stair. The landing to the top acts as the keystone to the stair’s arch.
New lintels forming openings to the rear of the house, as well as a series of carved washbasins which have been formed out of stone.
Ground and first-floor rooms only had to be lightly restored as they were in the best condition. Floors have been levelled with plaster mouldings repaired, while the uneven sloping ceilings, landings and architraves have been celebrated as a reflection of the building’s history.
The Victorian wall and staircase are supported by exposed steel – inserted in the 1980s – and these have been retained with an added stone lintel.
The existing layout has been adapted slightly to respond to the client’s long-term needs. On the ground floor, panelling in one of the living spaces conceals a fold-down bed. All of the joinery in the project is removable.
A steel and glass garden room has been added matching the exact footprint of a pre-existing low-quality extension, along with a new rooftop enclosure.
Located adjacent to the Regent’s Canal in Islington, this house had been neglected and had undergone a series of ad-hoc alterations before being listed in the 1990s. Our task was to refurbish, extend and update the house within the constraints of a listed building and the immediate conservation area. The owner particularly wanted to make the lower ground floor more inviting and less visually subservient to the upper levels, as well as improving the connection to the garden and bringing in more light.
The intention is that original features, newer additions and contemporary interventions are all celebrated for the layered timeline they reveal. Different material and colour palettes are used throughout the house to create a sense of identity for varying uses.
A fair proportion of the budget was set aside for the repair and restoration of the lime plaster and lath walls which were deemed irreparable.
Graham West, West Architecture
Start on site July 2017
Completion January 2019
Gross internal floor area 130m²
Gross (internal + external) floor area 191m²
Form of contract JCT Intermediate
Architect and interior design West Architecture
Structural engineer Webb Yates Engineers
Quantity surveyor MPA
Heritage consultant Donald Insall Associates
Landscape consultant Harris Bugg Studio
Approved building inspector RBC
Party wall surveyor Andrew Karoly
Main contractor Famella
Landscaping contractor Mark Whyman
Metalwork subcontractor Collier Webb
Stonework The Stonemasonry Company
Architectural lighting PSLab
FF&E supplier Twentytwentyone
CAD software used MicroStation