Designing within a Historic Context: 40-41 b Chagford Street, Westminster, London, NW1

Designing new buildings within established urban environments requires a thorough understanding of existing context, historic pattern of growth as well as local and national planning legislation. We work closely with planning authorities to ensure new buildings will be sensitive to their surroundings enhancing the historic environment as well as providing exciting contemporary architecture.


40-41b Chagford Street is a residential redevelopment located in the Dorset Square Conservation Area in Westminster. Six five-bedroom houses replaced existing garages with apartments above. The building successfully responds to a narrow site next to the grade II listed Chagford House and terraces along Gloucester Place behind.


A new basement was constructed across the whole site, a light well positioned to the rear allowing natural ventilation to a series of bedrooms along with bathroom, plantroom and cinema rooms. These spaces have proved very flexible being also used as study and studio spaces. Garages and entrance doors create a continuous timber screen to the street reminiscent of the former garages and commercial buildings. The living spaces for the houses are located in the second floor with mezzanines maximising the potential floor area with bedroom and bathroom accommodation below. Balconies and terraces have been integrated at all levels to provide external amenity space.


To prevent excessive overshadowing of the neighbours to the rear the roof forms of the building have been lowered creating a sloped pitch. This allowed the building to the front to mirror the height of Chagford House and neighbouring office building creating continuity with the massing along the street. To the rear the sloped massing provided opportunity for expansive skylights to the double height living spaces, transforming the internal spaces with natural daylight and sunlight as well as generous internal ceiling heights. Overlooking was restricted with the retention of existing boundary walls and raised walls around the rear terraces creating an intimate and private setting for the residents at roof level.


A rendered façade is punctured by vertical openings respecting the traditional proportions of the Georgian terraces. Each opening has been subdivided with recessed windows, first floor balconies and vertical timber cladding detail reinforces the vertical expression and link between the entrance and living space above. The roof is clad in patternated zinc a traditional material sympathetic to the surrounding slate roofs.


The success of the development was recognised by the Housing Design Awards, New London Architecture Exhibition and the National Home Building Awards. Westminster Council have also highlighted the development in the Dorset Square ‘Conservation Area Audit & Management Proposals’ as good example of contemporary architecture.