A mixed-use office and residential complex in Acton, west London, designed by Inglis Badrashi Loddo Architects (IBLA), grows out of a Victorian laundry and offers a contemporary interpretation of its material language and character. “We wanted the end result to be imbued with a real sense of ‘rootedness’ in its context and heritage”, says IBLA director Patrick Inglis. “By returning the site to its Victorian look and feel we then had space at the back to build light, high-quality and contemporary homes and an office”.
The £2.6m, 1100-square-metre scheme comprises two mews houses, seven flats and ground-floor, double-height workspace. IBLA removed poor quality twentieth-century additions from the two adjacent older buildings on the site – a house and part of the former Jeddo Works building – and added new upper floors to the industrial building, overlooking the street, and two new three-storey mews houses to the rear of the site, constructed in the tight-space between the walls of the former laundry and accessed via a courtyard garden shared by all users.
“Our first decision was to retain and repair the existing Victorian rusticated facade at ground level”, says IBLA director Jamal Badrashi. “Although in poor condition, the brick arches were finely detailed and extended beyond our site providing a useful continuity both to the adjacent buildings and to the history of the site. The new facade, extending upwards from the retained brickwork, is made up of four large double-height openings picking up on the scale of the original arches. The new openings conceal a number of winter gardens which provide private amenity space to the flats while preserving a consistent appearance to the facade as the planners were not keen on external balconies facing the street, considering them to be out of character with the area”.
New brick was chosen to match the original Victorian brickwork and the head and jamb of the new openings detailed with a simple stepped profile to provide depth to the elevation and also to pick up on the articulation of the Victorian brickwork below.The set back top floor is expressed as a three-bay loggia and is clad in a red tinted zinc, chosen to complement the colour of the brickwork.
Above the double-height office, flats above were intended to “contrast with the heritage of the exterior and as such are fitted out with a calm palette of materials including exposed concrete, steel beams and timber”, says the architect. The penthouse flat has a wrap-around balcony.
A timber-lined passageway leads from the street to the courtyard, where mews houses faced in white steel and timber have private sunken gardens, balconies and generous roof terraces which link to the first floor living spaces. An external steel-framed structure recalls traditional Georgian canopied balconies, suggests IBLA, and “provides both additional exterior space and mediates between the houses and the courtyard”.
South-facing winter gardens on the main block exploit passive solar heating, and exposed concrete soffits contribute provide thermal mass, further improving energy efficiency. Products and materials were sourced sustainably and locally, and fabrics were reused and wherever possible.