Our client, a writer, commissioned De Rosee Sa to design a 3-storey building for business use in North Kensington.
The site is situated within the Oxford Gardens Conservation Area in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea. This part of the conservation area is characterised by large, late Victorian townhouses and villas set on tree-lined streets with good-sized gardens. Although set within a conservation area, the site is directly opposite the Westway, an elevated section of the dual carriageway running East-West from the Marylebone High Road to the A40 motorway. The space under the Westway houses a number of creative and community uses along its length; this section along Malton Road has light industrial units and council offices. The Westway, opened in 1970, is a brutalist structure of fair faced concrete.
On its other side, the site backs onto the rear gardens of a period property on Cambridge Gardens, which has several mature trees. An existing wall constructed of London stock brick runs around three of the sides of the site's boundary, separating it from the rear gardens of the Cambridge Gardens properties. The site sits on a corner and is currently rented as a private car park for three cars for a local commercial business. Further West along this side of Malton Road, there are other single-storey garages but there are no other business premises of a single storey or above.
The site is opposite a pedestrian alleyway that connects Ladbroke Grove to Malton Road, part of a larger pedestrian route that runs beneath the Westway connecting Westbourne Park Road tube station to the Westway Sports Centre. There are plans for this pedestrian route to be extended Westward into the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham with a pedestrian tunnel under the West Cross Route. The alleyway in front of the site attracts day-time drinking due to its proximity to Ladbroke Grove and its off-licences that can sometimes lead to anti-social behaviour. A new building on this corner with windows looking down the pedestrian alley will provide passive surveillance which may deter this behaviour, or at least give some kind of active presence to this section of the route.
De Rosee Sa's proposal is for a 3-storey office building, spread over basement, ground and first floors. Our proposal is based on a fictional construct where two worlds meet: a traditional past meeting a contemporary one. The single storey London stock brick wall from the conservation area with a fair-faced concrete structure above. The concrete structure is to be read as a later addition, with two window openings, one with a Juliet balcony overlooking the pedestrian alleyway. Doors to access the building are located on the ground floor, set within the London stock brick wall.
The height of the building relates to the height of the Westway opposite, and a pitched roof was chosen to reduce the sense of enclosure from the street. A large skylights is set into the roof to draw north light down into the interiors. The interiors are left raw to express the materials they have been built from. The stair is made from steel grating to create a sense of transparency.
This project is at design and planning stage.