Victorian terrace house gets fascinating facelift

Kensington Residence is situated with a Royal Borough conservation area in London, designed by Studio Seilern Architects. This project rebuilds and combines two twin Victorian terrace houses behind historic facades to create one large family dwelling. The goal was to present a modern interpretation of a traditional Kensington abode.

The house comprises of one main body of three stories to the street and a two-storey extension to the rear garden. Elements of the existing fabric were of architectural merit and contributed to the conservation area. As a result, the main facade and building height were retained, with refurbishment the external finishes; London stock for the main body and white render for the extension.

Two separate rear extensions were demolished to allow for construction of a large, more practical and lit living area, with a triple height open space around the stairwell. The architects created an open plan and an open staircase allowing the 2,906 square foot (270 square meters) space to feel larger than it actually is.

From the main entrance, a corridor leads to the open living room with two glass conservatories, each under a single pane of glass, that face onto the rear garden. Large glass doors swivel outward to make a continuous open space between the living room, kitchen and garden terrace. A pared-down, minimal aesthetic was adopted for the garden, while still retaining a quintessentially English character.

At the core of the building, a sculptural spiral steel staircase visually connects all three levels. The leather stair covering and handrails are warm to the touch and absorb both sound and vibrations. Light falls dramatically around the stair from a skylight above, that opens hydraulically to facilitate natural ventilation throughout the building.