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Will Alsop defends 'alien' Kensington roof extension


Will Alsop has hit back at opponents of his plans to add a blob-like roof extension to a Victorian mansion block in Kensington, London

Alsop’s practice aLL Design is proposing a lightweight, two-storey extension on top of an existing six-storey structure comprising two two-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom flat together with private terraces.

The proposals, submitted to London Borough of Kensington and Chelsea for planning on behalf of a local art dealer, have provoked 25 objections from nearby residents.

But Alsop told the AJ: ‘I have worked carefully to produce something that will contrast with the mansion block.

‘In my experience this is respectful to the existing building and adds to the complex urban grain.

‘The myriad of roof additions on this stretch of the road are very ugly as a result of trying to fit in. They are usually mansard style in an attempt to be invisible.’

The existing block, Cromwell Mansions, was built between 1887 and 1889, and contains 12 flats.

The building is not listed but is bordered by two conservation areas to the north and south. Alsop’s proposed extension would be built offsite in steel and timber, to minimise construction disturbance.

However, neighbours say the designs clash with the existing building, and would cause overshadowing issues. One resident, protesting on the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea’s website, claimed the proposed was the scheme was ’fully out of character and an alien addition on top of this fine Victorian building’. 

A letter of objection from the Earls Court Society said: ‘The modern design helps the structure to read as secondary to some degree as it is different and “new”… however in longer distance views and other public vantage points the structure will be alien and dominant in size, scale and height.

’It will be an obvious addition which draws your eye. It will appear as a ‘statement’ piece on the skyline and will not work on this mid terraced building’.

The local authority is expected to make a decision is later this month.


Readers' comments (3)

  • its great, hope it gets built.

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  • we had a planning application refused by Woking Council for a modest new 3 bed family CFSH level 5 home because (to quote a member of the planning committee): ''contemporary design is out of character of the area- we want a 1930's bungalow''...... therein lies a problem. It is subject to appeal and was recommended for approval by council officers

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  • The brown brick "modern" flats next door need cheering up.

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