History Meets Modernity at this Richmond property

History meets modernity at this Richmond property

Conservation architecture was absolutely vital in this refurbishment and extension of a Grade II listed residence in Richmond

Originally constructed in 1810, this stunning building in Old Palace Lane, Richmond, retains many beautiful historical features. However, a previous addition in the 1970s was not in-keeping with the property, was poorly insulated and contributing to its deterioration.

L+ Architects took a ‘fabric first’ approach in the renovation, ensuring that the structure performs optimally and with sustainability at the forefront. The south- west London-based architectural firm designed a striking modern double-height rear extension, while preserving features such as original doors, windows and shutters. Biophilic design was also a leading principle in the approach.

Says architect and founder of L+, Pablo Lambrechts: “The new 2½ storey rear infill-extension, which replaces the 1970s, extension, creates a dramatic addition at the back of the house with a five-meter high glass door that transforms the double height space into a balcony from the upper ground floor onto the garden itself. This large, glazed wall produces a playful, unexpected shift in scale.”

“The contemporary approach creates a distinctive contrast with the original structures, allowing the building to tell its own history. The extension was therefore added without compromising the special interest of the historic interior.”

Conservation architecture techniques such as using clay render for the ceilings and walls replicates the technology at the time of the original construction and allows for the building “to breathe” as it was intended originally. At the same time this enhances the air tightness of the fabric of the house, reducing heat loss.

Owners of historic buildings often face a dilemma in how to make their homes work for contemporary living while preserving the integrity and character. Advises Pablo: “Establish at an early stage of the brief, the key principles of a conservation approach with your architect, considering carefully what you wish to restore, preserve, and how to deal with the additions, either manifesting them in an assertive way or concealing them entirely.”