Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When You Build It Make a Statement

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

When You Build It Make a Statement

Article excerpt

Byline: Deborah Collcutt

THERE was a time when, if you wanted to live in London, you bought a flat -- of which there was an abundant supply. After the Second World War, from Fulham to Fitzrovia, fine Victorian and Edwardian houses, with servants' quarters and large gardens, fell into disrepair and were split into flats, while by the 1990s, new-homes building in London consisted almost entirely of apartment blocks with gyms, pools and 24-hour concierge services.

But now there seems to be a shift back to house dwelling, particularly in the sought-after boroughs of Westminster and Camden. "Many Londoners, unlike people who live in European cities, yearn to live in a house," explains Shahriar Nasser, founder of Belsize Architects. "They want their own front door and a private garden."

In Westminster there has been a sharp rise since 2007 in the number of planning applications for house conversions that involve turning blocks of flats back into single homes.

In Camden, particularly Hampstead, there is a similar picture emerging of investors acquiring a number of flats -- sometimes their neighbours' properties over a period of years -- until they own an entire building.

But not all these projects need to be on a grand scale. Here we look at three entirely different family home conversions.

A LIBRARY IN THE SIDE RETURN KLIPPAN HOUSE, NW3 OUTSTANDING FEATURE: AN OUTBUILDING and exterior passageway were converted into an extra room and library with a glazed roof, costing [pounds sterling]184,000.

What it was: a Grade II-listed house built in 1881, designed and lived in by Ewan Christian, the architect who created the National Portrait Gallery. Split into three flats.

What it is: the current owners, a couple with two children, bought the two-storey garden flat in 2008.

Extensive work was needed on the roof so the couple made their neighbours (who lived in flats above them) an offer and they all agreed to sell.

The brief: to recreate a house equal to its former glory; modern improvements included bring much more light into the home.

The approach: with the addition of a library block with skylights, a glass balcony on one side of the house and the careful part-removal of some dividing walls, Shahriar Nasser, of Belsize Architects, gave the house a fresh feeling of space while respecting the building's listed status.

The result: Klippan House's glory has been restored but with a modern twist. Lots of small rooms, pantries and cupboards have been cleverly attached to main rooms as dressing rooms or bathrooms, giving the house a more modern feel, as does the use of marble, Portland stone and glass.

WHAT IT COST ?The library with new glazed roof was the biggest expenditure at [pounds sterling]184,000. TOTAL CONVERSION COST: [pounds sterling]3. …

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