Blandford Avenue

By Nick Bell

14 Blandford Avenue

By: Nick Bell D&A

New rear facade

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

The project primarily contributes to the streetscape and neighbourhood by not changing it. The site had an intact heritage item with the façade, which was restored and left modest. New works to the rear were kept subservient to the original dwelling and so did not disrupt the streetscape and preserved an unusual example of post war modern style architecture.

What problems did you have to solve?

14 Blandford Avenue is a listed heritage item, an unusual example of a modernist house. The house underwent alterations around 1990 when it was divided into three separate flats. The original house was substantially intact with the majority of the previous alterations being additive or reversible. These included the enclosure of the south west balcony and a two storey addition to the rear. The subdivision had been largely achieved by sealing doors to the upper level; hence these were readily reversible with minimal impact on the heritage fabric.

The objective was to restore the separate flats back into a single dwelling substantially recovering the 1948 built character, whilst also providing a contemporary addition complimentary to the original style and providing for modern requirements within a limited budget.

In the front section of the house, rooms were reconnected through the re-opening of original doorways and refurbished, rather than significantly reshaped. Room uses were re-defined for current living patterns. A double height addition was added to the rear. This new addition houses the main living spaces and connects to the three previously disparate areas of the house; the period featured upstairs, the rear garden, and the less featured basement accommodation. 

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

The contribution of the builder was excellent. PMD Build are a company we have worked with on several projects and that partnership allows a useful problem solving team approach such as working with the door and window sub-contractor to hit the tight tolerances required.

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

For any Architect a project can only be successful if you have a client that values design. The client on this project was very supportive of the overall aims of the design and placed a great deal of trust in the team. It is this relationship which then allows the project to be developed within the constraints of budget. Good design doesn’t necessarily need to use the most expensive materials but it does require whatever materials are used to be put together with thought and care.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

Given the run down nature of the dwelling, a developer would most likely have demolished the original house and started from scratch. By preserving and restoring the heritage house with minimal changes to the fabric, large amounts of building waste and new materials were able to be preserved. The new house has multiple window aspects, achieving high levels of natural light and ventilation across seasons and times of day. High level ventilation openings and skylights encourage stack effect natural ventilation, negating the requirement for A/C. Adjustable external blinds to the north and west along with high levels of insulation, reinforce the ability for passive solar control, allowing solar gain in winter but minimising it in the summer months.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The benefits for the client are being able to live in a house that retains period features but also has a modern design and contemporary facilities. The neighbours benefit from a sensitively designed project that does not overbear their property, take their sunlight or their privacy. The community generally benefit from the preservation of a heritage item and façade.