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52 PROJECT REPORT: COMMERCIAL & WORKPLACE ENVIRONMENTS


“We started engaging with the officers and held a couple of pre-application meetings to discuss the quality we were proposing, and how we wanted to improve the site – it’s a beautiful location in a sort of mews courtyard, but the hard landscaping was in a very poor condition.” The architect believed the building “needed some love” – Leo says the previous architects’ design proposals were a “poor pastiche,” which would have resulted in a pseudo-historical building. “We wanted to walk away from that principle,” he continues. “We want people to know it's got a huge heritage value, but we didn’t want to propose imitation design.”


They submitted two new planning applications for the building – one for the ground floor extension to the rear of the building, which was reportedly “low-risk” in the architects’ view due to its simplicity and modernity – and then a separate application for the roof extension. Through engagement with local consultees and Richmond’s conservation team, WP demonstrated that the plans for both the proposed extensions would not reduce privacy, block out light, or impact the historic nature of the surrounding


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“Even the neighbours who share the courtyard have said they can’t believe what we’ve done here”


properties – as such, the application was approved. Though achieved in a relatively short time frame, getting through planning was the “main challenge,” says Leo. “After that,” he continues, “the whole construction process was really enjoyable – all the contractors, everyone, stuck to the programme, on time and on budget, which was amazing.” Leo adds: “We had a very good team of consultants, as well as a very strong and detailed construction package. When we went into tender we interviewed three contractors with a strong cost plan – we didn’t just select the cheapest, we selected the one that was going to deliver what we wanted.”


Flexibility


When first entering the site, Leo was immediately struck by the main deficiencies of the project – each of which the architects


ADF NOVEMBER 2020


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