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The facade of a mews terrace house

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working details

Ten years ago Richard Murphy Architects converted an 1820s mews terrace into a singlebedroomed apartment with garage (Working Detail, AJ 21.9.95). Another conversion, with an identical brief for the same client, has just been completed on the opposite side of the mews. The volume is the same, but the bedroom is now situated on the ground floor with kitchen and living spaces on the first floor.

Like the earlier conversion, the new front facade is expressed as a 'layering of materials and openings', using a similar palette of materials.

Both facades are framed by a series of exposed steel channels; the lowest, a 200 x 90mm PFC, serves as a runner for the wheels of a timber sliding door to the garage and supports the new first-floor joists, defining the new interior level.

A layer of glazing runs the full length of the facade at floor level and terminates behind an upper 150 x 75mm PFC. This creates the appearance of a larger opening, which aligns with the original stable-door scale. The glazing can be screened by lowering three hinged shutters concealed by a projecting bench/shelf.

A planning condition of the new mews conversion was that a proportion of the upper facade should be clad with stone. The reclaimed Cragleith ashlar sandstone panel is set between two 150 x 75mm PFC channels and aligns with adjacent masonry walls. They are flanked by panels of glass blocks, fitted with mirrors, so that they appear to be sliding behind the stone panel.

On the inside, the blocks can be screened by a pair of insulated sliding shutters, which stand behind the stone panel. A recessed plane of clerestory windows, also fitted with hinged shutters, runs just below the eaves.

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