STEPHEN FLETCHER ARCHITECTS
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1

This project has involved the complete remodelling and extension of a five-storey Victorian terraced house in Chelsea, including the excavation of an additional basement level beneath the footprint of the house, front vaults and most of the rear garden.

The house had been extensively ‘chopped and changed’ over the years, including various 1970s accretions, so the opportunity existed, planning permitting, for a complete internal rebuild; only the front façade and roof now remain of the original.

It was realised from the outset that, since the houses on this side of Glebe Place are, at five metres wide, quite long and narrow, the staircase should be relocated to the middle thereby allowing for full-width rooms to front and rear. It was also realised that the principal living floors (ground, lower ground and basement levels) should be opened-up, connect with the rear garden, and enjoy as much daylight as possible.

This has resulted in a double-height living room at lower ground floor level with aligning twin tall openings on opposite sides. On one side, the openings house structural glass ‘guillotine’ windows by Vitrocsa, which lead to the garden. On the other side, the openings house a monolithic concrete staircase with a stepped soffit, which gradually wends its way down from the Entrance Hall.

Vistas have been opened-up from front to rear, and the sculptural staircase and matching polished concrete floors help tie these areas together. A backlit built-in sculpture, by the Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze, featuring moving silhouettes of the owners and their family, is located within the central pier in between the twin staircase openings.

A couple of steps lead down from the Living Room to the kitchen, located at the front of the house beneath the Entrance Hall. Mirrored cabinets on one side provide discreet storage whilst increasing the illusion of the space. A yellow glass ‘canopy’ ceiling and backsplash act as an intimate foil to the double-height Living Room. A section of glass ceiling in the bay window provides a visual connection with the Entrance Hall above. A lobby off the kitchen leads to the front lightwell and steps, and the ‘back’ staircase.

The formal dining room is located at the foot of the main staircase at basement level. This features a coffered ceiling, a large aquarium, and a recessed area of black lacquered panelling with a skylight and wine cellars to either side. Mirrored sliding doors open onto a sitting room located beneath the rear garden. At the far end of the sitting room, a backlit artwork, also by Tamara Kvesitadze, terminates the vista from the aquarium.

The basement corridor, which doubles-up as a picture gallery, leads from the Dining Room to various ancillary accommodation including two lavatories (one
of which looks into the aquarium), a utility room and a maid’s suite. The aforementioned ‘back’ staircase, connecting with the kitchen, is located at the end of this corridor.

From the ground floor Entrance Hall, a laminated timber staircase with structural glass balustrades leads to the three upper floors, culminating in a roof terrace. By introducing a shadow gap around the outside edge, the stair appears to ‘float’ and feels more sculptural/less bulky than it might have done otherwise. A plane of grey polished plaster running up one side of the stairwell adds to this effect and continues the concrete ‘palette’ from the lower levels.

The first floor is devoted to the Master Bedroom suite. A spacious bathroom with white and grey polished plaster walls, a ‘tadelakt’ freestanding bath, a low-level panel with inset moss, and twin maroon-coloured wall-mounted glass vanity units is located at the front, with the bedroom at the rear. These spaces are connected via a corridor lined with grey lacquered wardrobes and wall/ceiling panelling incorporating recessed track-lighting. Dinesen douglas fir floorboards run in one section from front to rear.

Two bedroom suites and a roof terrace are located at second floor level, and a large open-plan playroom/bedroom at third floor level, with extensive build- in wardrobes incorporating a central ‘bar’ recess. The staircase terminates at a large ‘flat’ skylight, which slides open mechanically and affords access to the main roof terrace with panoramic views of Chelsea and beyond.
Project Year: 2015
Project Cost: More than GBP 2,000,000
Country: United Kingdom
Others who worked on this project: Glazing Vision
CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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This project, our most ambitious and complex to date, has involved the complete remodelling and extension of a five-storey Victorian townhouse in Chelsea, including the excavation of an additional basement level beneath the footprint of the house, vaults and most of the rear garden. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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The property had been extensively 'chopped and changed' over the years, including various 1970s accretions. The opportunity therefore existed, planning permitting, for a complete internal rebuild. This was grasped to the full, and only the front facade and roof now remain of the original. Photography: Rachael Smith
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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It was realised from the outset that since the houses on this side of Glebe Place are, at only five metres wide, rather long and narrow, the new staircase should be relocated to the middle, thus allowing for full-width rooms to front and rear. It was also realised that the principal living floors (ground, lower ground and basement) should be opened-up, seamlessly flow-together...More
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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Vistas have been opened-up from front to rear, and a sculptural concrete staircase, matching the concrete floors, helps tie the areas together. This gradually wends its way down from the ground floor entrance hall, which doubles-up as a study. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The desk has been carefully located so as to enjoy the view of Glebe Place to one side, and to the back of the rear garden via the half-landing and living room window beyond. One can also see down into the kitchen through a glass floor panel in the bay. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The desk has been carefully located so as to enjoy the view of Glebe Place to one side, and to the back of the rear garden via the half-landing and living room window beyond. One can also see down into the kitchen through a glass floor panel in the bay. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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An opening opposite the front door leads down from the entrance hall/study to a half-landing which overlooks the dramatic double-height living room. Discreet built-in storage and a fire safety curtain have been incorporated into the reveals. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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An opening opposite the front door leads down from the entrance hall/study to a half-landing which overlooks the dramatic double-height living room. Discreet built-in storage and a fire safety curtain have been incorporated into the reveals. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The double-height living room features aligning twin tall openings on opposite sides. On one side, these openings house structural glass electric 'guillotine' windows by Vitrocsa, which provide views of and easy access to the rear garden. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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Down the polished concrete staircase to the Living Room.. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The double-height living room features aligning twin tall openings on opposite sides. On one side, these openings house structural glass electric 'guillotine' windows by Vitrocsa, which provide views of and easy access to the rear garden. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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The double-height living room features aligning twin tall openings on opposite sides. On one side, these openings house structural glass electric 'guillotine' windows by Vitrocsa, which provide views of and easy access to the rear garden. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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On the other side, the openings house the stair and half-landings. A backlit sculpture, by the Georgian artist Tamara Kvesitadze, formed of moving silhouettes of the owners and their family, is located within the central pier. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A couple of steps lead down from the living room to the kitchen, which is located at the front of the house beneath the entrance hall/study. Mirrored cabinets on one side provide discreet storage whilst increasing the illusion of space. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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CHELSEA TOWNHOUSE No 1
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A couple of steps lead down from the living room to the kitchen, which is located at the front of the house beneath the entrance hall/study. Mirrored cabinets on one side provide discreet storage whilst increasing the illusion of space. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A canary yellow glass 'canopy' ceiling which continues down to counter level as a backsplash, acts as a bright yet intimate foil to the adjacent double-height living room. It also houses services including the extractor and perimeter lighting. The hobs are located on one side of the island unit, which provides counter seating for six. Full-height cabinets and appliances, inclu...More
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A seating area is located in the bay window overlooking the front light well. Above this area, a glass ceiling panel affords a few of the entrance hall/study. Extensive storage and a television set are located behind the adjacent mirrored panels. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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We worked closely with Mowlem & Co on the kitchen design, which has been carefully integrated into the overall architecture, aided by using a similar palette. As a result, this rather small room feels brighter and larger than it actually is. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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Ample storage behind the mirrored panels.. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A Built-in larder behind white lacquered pocket doors.. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The dining room is located at the foot of the main staircase at basement level. It features a coffered ceiling, a large built-in aquarium, and a recessed area of black lacquered panelling. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A corridor leads from one side of the aquarium to various ancillary areas, including the utility room which can also function as a secondary kitchen. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A recessed area of black lacquered panelling, on axis with the aquarium opposite, is located on one side of the dining room. This incorporates glazed doorways to the twin wine cellars, sliding mirrored doors to the family room, and a skylight. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The family room has been excavated beneath the rear garden and features a backlit artwork by Tamara Kvesitadze with 'sun tunnels' set into the ceiling to either side. At the moment, this area serves as a children's playroom and cinema room. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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An unusual and dramatic feature is a WC with a window looking into the aquarium; large rocks have been strategically placed inside for privacy. A scarlet basin, polished black plaster walls and a coffered silver leaf ceiling heighten the drama. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The twin wine cellars, located betwixt the dining and family rooms, also provide additional interest and drama. The glazed, insulated doors, have been carefully positioned to align with the skylight. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A corridor leads from the dining room via the WC, utility room and maid's quarters to a secondary staircase up to the front light well and kitchen. It also serves as a picture gallery, with ample lighting provided by the recessed ceiling slot and the low-level wall lights. Photography: Rachael Smith
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A bright red composite counter enlivens what would otherwise be a rather clinical utility room. Discreet white panels conceal a plethora of 'stuff' including various laundry and kitchen appliances, the boilers, and the extensive hardware for the Lutron lighting and audio-visual installations. Photography: Rachael Smith
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The master suite occupies the whole of the first floor, apart form the stairwell. The bathroom is located at the front and the bedroom at the rear, connected via a dressing area centred on one of the front windows. Dinesen douglas fir floorboards run in one section from wall to wall. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The highly polished lacquering has resulted in unforseen reflective views into the bathroom, bedroom and beyond. This has inadvertently heightened the illusion of space and drama. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The highly polished lacquering has resulted in unforseen reflective views into the bathroom, bedroom and beyond. This has inadvertently heightened the illusion of space and drama. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A cluster of vintage lucite light tubes hangs in the centre of the master bedroom. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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An additional artwork by Tamara Kvesitadze is located nearby. Photography: Rachael Smith
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Photography: Rachael Smith
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The master bathroom features twin Artilenea wall-mounted vanity basins and taps, with bespoke 'floating' medicine cabinets above. The wall surface behind is finished in polished plaster. The panel glimpsed in the mirror separates the shower and WC areas from the bathroom proper. It is finished in grey polished plaster, matching the wall behind, and includes a section of petrif...More
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A dark grey polished plaster panel. with inset petrified moss, separates the shower and WC areas from the bathroom proper. A freestanding 'tadelakt' bath sits in front.
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This is one of the en-suite bathrooms at second floor level. The sculptural freestanding bath is by V+A and the flooring and bespoke cabinet are douglas fir. Photography: Rachael Smith
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This is one of the en-suite bathrooms at second floor level. The sculptural freestanding bath is by V+A and the flooring and bespoke cabinet are douglas fir. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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A laminated douglas fir staircase, matching the floorboards, runs from the entrance hall/study half landing, past the first floor master suite and two second floor bedroom suites, to the top of the house. This area is currently configured as a single space, although it can be subdivided by a sliding panel when required. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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One side of the staircase is supported by a structural glass wall. This helps keep the space as bright and open as possible. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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One side of the staircase is supported by a structural glass wall. This helps keep the space as bright and open as possible. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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One side of the staircase is supported by a structural glass wall. This helps keep the space as bright and open as possible. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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One side of the staircase is supported by a structural glass wall. This helps keep the space as bright and open as possible. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The staircase finally terminates at roof level, which is accessed via a sliding skylight. The dark grey polished plaster wall behind runs right down the stairwell to the first floor landing. Photography: Rachael Smith
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The staircase finally terminates at roof level, which is accessed via a sliding skylight. The dark grey polished plaster wall behind runs right down the stairwell to the first floor landing. Photography: Rachael Smith
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Roof terrace view Photographer: Rachael Smith
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And finally, this night-time view, taken from the rear garden, shows the double-height Vitrocsa 'guillotine' windows and the living room beyond. The lighting design, by Tim Fonfara of Luxologie, as throughout the project, accentuates the architecture of the spaces and the connection between the interior and exterior. Photographer: Rachael Smith
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The front light well and side entrance to the kitchen... Photographer: Rachael Smith
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