Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

And for My Next Trick. with Tenacity, Charm and a Touch of Magic, One Architect Knows How to Win over the Planners, as Ali Watkinson Discovers

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

And for My Next Trick. with Tenacity, Charm and a Touch of Magic, One Architect Knows How to Win over the Planners, as Ali Watkinson Discovers

Article excerpt

Byline: ALI WATKINSON

ARCHITECT Cezary Bednarski wants to make clear that he is not a magician when it comes to securing planning approval. However, he does seem to have an extraordinary talent for producing startling designs in difficult locations, which planning officers, in contradiction of their popular image, embrace.

As with a conjuror, Bednarski's success seems to lie in an understanding of his target audience, a determination to win them over and, it has to be said, a certain sleight of hand. So when he learned that a roof terrace and mansard extension for a top-floor flat overlooking Portobello Road would be rejected due to a protected roofscape, Bednarski cannily sought approval to replace the slates of the existing roof with glass. The application was passed and Bednarski simply hinged part of the glazing so that it rises like a bird wing, allowing access to what then becomes, hey presto, a small roof terrace.

His tenacity is nowhere better illustrated than by this 252sq m house (above right) close to Hammersmith Bridge in Barnes, south-west London, which has just gone on the market for [pounds sterling]1.3 million: an increase of 200 per cent on the land and build costs, which valuers have attributed to its uniqueness.

Occupying a mews site, tightly penned in by the gardens of the Victorian terraces and part of a conservation area to boot, the house - crisp, white and occupying every last inch of the plot - is a blatant design statement.

That the design eschewed compromise was handsomely acknowledged when it won the Manser Medal for the best one-off house built in the UK in 2001.

The owner of the plot first tried to obtain planning permission at the end of the 1980s to replace an existing derelict coach house with, variously, a modest house and an office building.

Following two failed planning applications and a lost appeal, Bednarski was retained in 1991 to see if the project could be rescued. …

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