Highbury Terrace Mews

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Location: Highbury Terrace Mews Islington

Client: Anon

Project Year: 2013

Cost: £100k - £500k

Highbury Terrace Mews is a classic London mews where over time architects and owners have been given license to build an eclectic mix of houses of all types and styles in materials which include brick, timber, floor to ceiling glazing, render and aluminium. 17A was built by a developer as part of a group of 5 houses in 1988 to replace a laundry. The houses are uncharacteristic of the rest of the mews: a confusion of Post Modern, Victorian and Georgian styles, in a mixture of brick and render, with some ill considered detailing. 17A, which is the end of the terrace, was set back with a pedimented gable section stepping forward over the entrance. The design brief quickly evolved from a modest exercise to add a shower room and upgrade windows and thermal insulation to a very exciting project to completely re-design, simplify and rationalise the whole front elevation and to fit out a number of key internal spaces. It was exciting to challenge the existing design vocabulary of the terrace while retaining the existing structure and openings, to design within the spirit of the best of the mews architecture, and create something bold and well detailed using a limited pallet of materials. After studying a range of cladding options including render and metal it was decided that a timber rain screen would be the most tolerant of the existing structure and most adaptable to the new form. It would also visually and texturally offer warmth and strength. The Planning process was challenging but through debate and consultation, planning officers were persuaded and the scheme was accepted without any compromise.  The elevation was modified by altering the pedimented section, replacing the windows and cladding the front above the ground floor: The larch timber cladding is of variable width and is stained charcoal black. The exposed brickwork at the ground floor level has been paint washed grey to create a gentler transition from the black. Existing window openings have been reused and 2 new openings formed. Fixed windows are set flush with the cladding; opening windows are set back in deep set oiled cedar clad reveals. This gives the façade a dynamic quality and helps to articulate a satisfying rhythm. The stepped section and pediment has been replaced by a simple shift in plan and a consistent horizontal roof line. The roof drainage gutters and down pipes are hidden behind the new cladding which helps retain a clean uncluttered facade. The front door was retained and painted orange, the steps were reformed and widened, and 2 planting beds created either side. Key internal spaces - study and bedrooms, are fitted out in cedar.

The overall impact is to detach the end of terrace from the immediate neighbours, to create a distinctive bold, simple but elegant new house without the need for major building works and which relates in a more exciting and relevant way to the other individual buildings in the mews.

Architect: Studio 54 Architecture
Contractor: Fullers Builders 
Contact: Charles Thomson - charles.thomson@studio54architecture.co.uk

Photographs by Sarah Blee.

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View of entrance, photograph by Sarah Blee.

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View of front reclad, photograph by Sarah Blee.

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View of internal study, photograph by Sarah Blee.