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This house is also part of the Grade II listed Georgian terrace along Narrow Street. It was unusual as larger parts of the historic fabric were still intact internally. The client has carried out extensive research in the history and fabric of the house over the past centuries. They were particularly sensitive to retaining the underlying character of the house, with a historically sensitive yet contemporary approach to this important house on the Thames.

Originally the houses forming the terrace had shop fronts/storage/through spaces at ground floor street level. Following their dereliction and re-inhabitation in the late 1960’s they became garages and storage.

As tall, thin buildings with rear additions, natural light penetration is inventively achieved in a variety of ways along the terrace. All of the houses have basements, which poses a particular issue for natural lighting and ventilation. Some of the houses have a void placed in the core of the house and others at either the roadside or the riverside. However, double height spaces/voids are a fundamentally common feature which makes these houses both architecturally unique and interesting and fundamentally habitable.

Our proposal inserted a modest double height space to gain light and ventilation at the front of the house, and so made the basement habitable.

As with the 'Agere' houses, a counter-weighted oversized version of a sash window was installed at the rear to open up views to, and light from the River.

Features and historic fabric retained include:
• non-English standard sizes brick paviours in the ground floor, believed to be remnants of ballast from the shipping trade
• exposed timber beams - some likely to be original to the building
• central staircase and adjacent fireplace with central chimney structure. Unfortunately no original fire surrounds had survived
• oversized pine floorboards on some upper floors

Our design approach married the more formal and abstract architectural elements of the front facade, with the light industrial and purely functional aspects of the River facing side.

The front elevation is a restoration of the existing facade with a ‘light touch’
alteration of the garage doors at street level.

The river facade is inspired by the historic features of typical Thames buildings on the
river front. The London warehouse is an obvious example, and the lower river edge
facade combines this with the Venetian Palazzo typology - as a ‘grand room on the

Our strategy planned the house around its simple original arrangement of a room at front & back with a central stair and chimney. We relocated the primary living spaces within the rear extension spaces on ground & first floors, so they faced the Thames. In this position the spaces can be comfortably accessed for guests, without the need to use the old stairs. The ground & first floors were joined with a new bronze metal stair as a ‘mezzanine’ room’.

As a result, the main house essentially remained spatially identical to the
original plan.

The new Anthony Gormley ‘Another Time’ figure on the foreshore is an important focal point for the outlook of the house, and influenced the design approach is placing the main living space here.

When handling historic buildings of this nature, we find it necessary to go beyond a simplistic approach of retaining ‘original objects’ within the fabric. An essential character of this house is the way it was organised: the quality of its spaces and natural light, and materials used.

Its character blends the formal with the everyday, and it should be acknowledged that that despite being architecturally significant, these houses were built as modest and functional buildings for tradespeople, merchants and mariner workmen to service
the small boats on the Thames.

These properties were far from grandiose. The spaces within were small and compact to provide basic accommodation for river workers and their families, with covered yards for repairs on the river.

Our choice of materials within the house reflects this ‘artisanal’ quality of honesty of the existing retained robust materials.

In essence the house has 2 aspects:

1. The street front is formal and part of a clear group forming a whole as the terrace. The approach here is to only modestly adjust the ground floor frontage, as this has always been the case through the house’s many incarnations.

2. The river frontage presents 2 facades, as ‘the house’ setback from the river, and the ‘extension’ directly on the waterfront.

House on the River 3: Vindauga

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