I wrote about external cladding yesterday on our blog and forgot to mention the positive effect a refurbishment of this sort can have on a place. This kind of project can revitalise an area and contribute considerable to local attitudes about public spaces.
These are images of the Leicester Mercury Building (newspaper) in my home town of Leicester (obviously) which it was argued should have been pulled down and an alternative building built in its place.
It was a brilliant kick start to regenerating the area and i think most will agree it is a fantastic looking building now.
One of my favorite buildings in its current guise, although I did kind of like the old building as well.
There is a lot of bad press regarding external building cladding in the news at the moment, and justifiable so. The tragic events at Grenfell Tower in London, just over two weeks ago, were truly shocking and although we are only at the early stages in the the investigation it would appear that the external cladding helped the fire to spread quickly on the outside of the building and encase the helpless occupants.
My only hope is that we don’t give up on the idea of external cladding (or high rise living) as a knee-jerk reaction to these events but instead we learn from this tragedy and a much safer solution evolves.
External cladding isn’t a bad idea, it obviously needs to be vastly improved in terms of fire rather than simply concentrating on insulation, it has so much going for it. Cladding a building externally helps reduce disruption to occupants (very important in a place like London), maintains floor area and is much more cost effective than stripping out an existing interior to line the inner walls. It isn’t ideal but there must be a way to resolve the risks.
Our hearts go out to those effected by the fire and we hope all the survivors find permanent and suitable homes as soon as possible.
Walters Architects refurbishment to this Grade II Listed Building in Leicestershire is now complete. Whilst the project only involved a single room it was a very involved and detailed scheme taking over four months of construction. The house was formally a butchers shop and accommodation which had previously enclosed the shop element. Our design has reinstated the original carcass wheel, introduced a contemporary angled roof light and incorporated new floor to ceiling cupboards with secret doors to another room and the garage. We are all (client, contractor, architect) very happy with the results. Walters Architects love working with historical buildings.
Artists in Leicester – Leicesters ‘Bring the Paint’ festival has been great. Covering walls and board in and around the Cultural Quarter. If you like street art (the art form previously known as graffiti) then take a look at some of Leicesters finest. It would be great if all building sites commissioned works like these instead of painting corporate colours on their hoardings. We need more of this type of creativity in our lives.
Walters Architects have been asked to design a small house for construction in a clients rear garden. This type of development isn’t always favored by planners and is sometimes referred to as ‘Back Land Development’. Conventional Back Land Development is against national planning policy but there is always the exception to the rule.
The reason we believe this particular project maybe relevant is because the clients back garden runs adjacent to another road which incorporates many other houses. So effectively we are simply infilling a gap where a current disused garage sits. Obviously this opportunity is most common in built up areas rather than villages or the open country side but the principle can be adopted anywhere.
Walters Architects were approached by a local Planning Consultant who specified a one bedroom house which couldn’t have any windows to the rear or the side of the buildings. The house also needed to incorporate one car parking space and couldn’t obscure the neighbors property. This means adhering to national planning policies ’45 degree’ rule to the left hand side of the property. All these restraints/restrictions dictated the form of the proposed house which we have nick named the ‘Z house’.
The scheme incorporates blue brick to the ground and side walls and mirrors the intended neighboring properties with white render at first floor on the front and rear elevations. Whilst there are windows in the principle rooms some of the window and natural light restrictions have been overcome by using roof lights.
The client intends to sell the plot with planning permission and believes it maybe of some interest to a student or an academic wanting to live close to Leicester university or the Hospital.
Hopefully someone will build the house to our design and use us for the remaining architectural services.
The scheme is currently at the Planning stage and we should know if we’ve been successful in the new year. I’ll keep you posted.
Start Over – New Build House.
Walters Architects have been commissioned to design a new build family home for a private client in Leicestershire. The site is in a Conservation Area where an existing house already stands. The current home is in poor condition and not particularly attractive so we intend to demolish it to make way for our new proposal. We have already submitted a ‘Pre Planning’ application which was met with a positive reaction by the Local Authorities Planning department. We find this staged approach is the best way to inform any detailed design and it helps no end in achieving successful decisions.
The client and the practice are delighted with the new design for a 3 storey detached Mock Tudor style house. Our proposal includes 5 bedroom, one en -suite, two family bathrooms, a study, utility, walk in larder and a large family kitchen/diner. The external materials include Swithland stone, brick, lime plaster and oak framing with powder coated aluminium windows.
The site is quite narrow and the house is set towards the rear so the setting and approach to the house is pretty dramatic. The benefit of inserting a new home on an existing site is that the landscaping is already established which gives a better sense of belonging. The previous owners were clearly keen gardeners so little we are keen to preserve the current landscaping.
Also, as part of the same application, we have designed a timber framed triple garage with log store, external stair case and office above. This structure will be placed to the front of the site under a rather attractive oak tree.
All relevant planning information should be ready for this Friday (including these visuals) when we intend to make the full application.
Walters Architects have built within this particular Conservation Area a couple of times and have real strong relationships with the local planing authority and their Conservation team. That said, we still need you to wish us luck.
Walters Architects have been approached by a new client who have asked us to resubmit a planning application for a design we had approval for nearly 5 years ago.
The original application had lapsed (approvals are only valid for 3 years now, not 5) and the new clients were made aware of our practice via the councils website whilst researching the sites planning history.
An alternative design was recently put forward but the planners informed the client that our practice had better ideas for the location and suggested they talk to us directly as we had been successful in the past and the alternative scheme was unlikely to gain approval.
The site is part of a tight back garden development within a Conservation Area ( we love Conservation Areas) and the access, parking and amenity space were all problematic. Our proposal is for a small house in a contemporary style which adds to the character of the area in a positive way without appearing pastiche or as a diluted version of the fine Victorian architecture which surrounds it.
We are just pleased that the house may now get built. Fingers crossed.