Belsize Architects maximises the potential of a constrained but valuable site in central London
Belsize Architects has completed a compact four-bedroom house on an unpromising site surrounded by five- and six-storey buildings in Southwick Yard, a gated mews in London’s Hyde Park Estate. Previously occupied by a single-bedroom mews cottage, poor in its layout and state of repair, the site was developed for the Church Commissioners. Belsize Architects recommended demolition and replacement, rather than extending or remodeling the cottage, and the addition of a basement helped maximise the site’s spatial and financial potential.
The mews elevation is dominated by a large first-floor window overlooking the street, set within a facade of long slim bricks. The front facade at ground floor and side facade at first floor is finished in Shou-Sugi-Ban – a burnt-timber treatment originating in Japan.
The basement floor accommodates two double bedrooms, an en-suite bathroom, a shower room, a media room and utility room. A corner lightwell reaches down to form a small external courtyard at basement level, bringing natural light and ventilation into the two bedrooms. A glass staircase rises through the house, allowing natural light from a skylight above to reach all floors.
The ground floor, extended beyond the previous property’s footprint into the courtyard, provides an open-plan living area. Opening from the entrance lobby, a reception area with hardwood flooring leads through to a large kitchen and breakfast bar area. This space is lit from above by skylights and two sets of double full-length windows with remotely controlled timber louvres that, when open, fill the room with natural light. At other times the louvres can be closed to give complete privacy, and give the house a secluded appearance when viewed from the street. On the first floor are two double bedrooms (one en-suite) and a family bathroom with a dual aspect, featuring a large window overlooking the courtyard.