Everyday materials are elevated in David Leech Architects’ exceptionally well thought out residential conversion
RIBA West London Regional Award 2023
A House within a House, Belsize Park
David Leech Architects for private client
Contract value: Confidential
House Within a House is a highly crafted conversion of two flats into a single family home in the Belsize Park Conservation Area of North West London.
A previous conversion of the two lowest floors of the Victorian townhouse had stripped out any period details and had eroded the historical configuration of rooms. Any formal sense of ‘public’ or ‘private’ was lost, diminishing the scale of what would have once been the principal ‘front’ room of the house.
The opportunity to bring two floors of the building back together as a house has been considered at every scale. With a modest economy of means, David Leech Architects’ intervention brings a renewed domesticity, with a diversity of living spaces, within a small footprint.
The project begins with a new private ‘porte-cochere’ entrance, which immediately brings a renewed relationship between the house and its garden – welcoming visitors through an elegant, yet formal, portal at the side of the dwelling. The ‘public’ living spaces of the house have been ingeniously split across both floors, making use of the generosity of the existing upper-ground-floor ceiling heights and the opportunity for a private entrance at lower ground floor level. A gentle splay at the base of the new stair and a vaulted ceiling provide a sinuous connection between the public functions, creating a joyful procession between spaces.
The insertion of an inset loggia, connected to the main living space, defines the architectural ambition of the project. Bringing domestic focus to the more private rear of the house, the loggia folds into a corner of the living room in a bold way, providing immediate proximity to the garden and offering long views to the surrounding urban context.
The jury felt that the design ambition within the project was highly admirable, with every detail lovingly conceived and exceptionally well thought through, and all delivered within a limited budget. Everyday materials have been elevated through a simple tectonic of paint, joints and fixings to splendid combined effect.
To find out more about the whole RIBA Awards process visit architecture.com
Contractor: ASK Interiors
Structural engineer: Structure Workshop
Environmental / M&E engineer: Ritchie + Daffin
Heritage consultant: Dorian Crone Heritage