In Lancaster Mews, Bayswater our clients purchased a near derelict mews house, which was in a very poor state, and had been lying vacant for many years. Our brief was to ‘re-build’ the house totally, thus saving on the VAT as that is not applicable to new build houses.

Being in a conservation area the front wall had to remain, but we managed to demolish the house behind the front façade and to build the new house behind it.

By excavating a new basement under the entire footprint of the plot, and by extending the habitable accommodation up into the roof space, we managed to build a 4-storey house in place of the original 2-storey property, and so winning a huge planning gain in the volume of new development.

The challenging task when working on Mews houses is to allow natural light to penetrate the property, when it only has windows etc. to the front façade. In this project, we have managed to create two lightwell spaces within the footprint of the house, which form internal courtyard areas, albeit very small in scale. These provide light shafts penetrate deep into the property and so prevent the back of the house being dark and lacking in ventilation.

Our client is a structural engineer and because of his deep understanding of the building process, he was involved closely through all stages of the project. Through a mutual appreciation of design and construction methods we have enjoyed a productive and collaborative working relationship with this client, and we believe the result reflects this in a positive way.

Looking at the house from the outside, one would think that the project was a renovation exercise, for it looks as if the frontage has been subject to a major refurbishment, but it is a new house sitting behind a considerably smartened up front façade. In design terms, the finished house is clean and simple with the emphasis very much on the impressive and generously proportioned spaces that we have teased out of the original volume of the house.

Less is more was very much the order of the day when designing this new building.