Bloomsbury House

This project, which we completed in 2005, saw us working to transform a historic Georgian townhouse from bland, carpeted offices into a contemporary home and gallery. 

The house sits in what architectural historians consider to be one of the finest and most complete early Georgian streets in London. It dates from 1721. The grandest in the street, it is four window bays wide rather than the more usual three.

The Grade II* listing of the house required us to secure and comply with a complex listed building consent. The panelling that covers the walls of all the important rooms had to be carefully disassembled to allow pipes and wires to be put in behind, and then as carefully reinstalled. We worked closely with Camden's Conservation Officers throughout the process.

2008 RIBA Award

A key intervention to the rear of the house was to oversail the existing courtyard space with a new ovoid terrace of white stone, which we connected to the house at ground floor level with glass bridges and finished with curved glass balustrades.

The new structure overlies the historic vaulted cellars, where the addition of circular rooflights, punched through the terrace, creates intriguing and sculptural forms where they intersect the arched ceiling.

Two of the three sash window openings at the rear of the ground floor were lowered to create ways through, with a new casement door panel below. The sashes themselves were unchanged and, when the lower sash is raised, provide enough headroom to pass through.

We enjoyed the creative opportunity to integrate the architecture with the owner’s art collection, which contains an important Antony Gormley figure, One and Other. Moving and installing the Gormley piece to the rear of the property was a technical exercise that took meticulous preparation and a series of special engineering measures.

We positioned him very carefully. Looking through the finished home from the front door, he can be seen presiding over the home like a mysterious house spirit.

Under the new terrace we created a media room, lit by means of skylights set into the terrace.

Ash Sakula drawings photos
A view of Gormley's One and Other from one of the bridges connecting the terrace to the house.
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos
Ash Sakula drawings photos

Client: Private

Structural Engineer: Greig Ling

M&E Engineer: Michael Popper

Cost Consultant: Dobson White Boulcott

Photographer: Nick Kane

Under the terrace, the media space looks into pocket-sized outdoor moss gardens.

Read more about the thinking behind this project:

The staircase has barley twist balusters "whose slick modernity was calculated to engage the eye of the bumpkin in search of his first town house," wrote John Summerson in Georgian London. It was carefully cleaned and restored.

These images show the interventions at the rear of the house at ground and basement levels.

Ground floor plan

Basement level plan

The kitchen. Folded Corian panels are set forward of the original, unaffected panelling, with hidden lighting in the gap between.