It’s well known that so many of London’s lovely Victorian terraced houses were flattened by Luftwaffe bombing during World War Two.
Whole areas of London were lost, and a lot of the prefab homes and towers put up in their place in the 1950s and 60s left a lot to be desired.
But in many parts of London, where some homes remained, they have been lovingly restored to bring some character of the old streets back to the fore – albeit in a modern gentrified way.
READ MORE: Londoner reveals the reality of British Army training in the 1990s
In one ingenious scheme though – where a street had been all but knocked down by bombing and dull 1960s prefab had been put up in its place – architects have come up with an amazing solution to bring back a more traditional look.
They’ve actually coated a 1960s structure in Brockley in Lewisham in a new skin that makes it look like a proper Victorian house.
The design is so good it won a Royal Institute of British Architects RIBA London Award 2021 and RIBA National Award 2021.
The house, designed by the alma-nac practice, was finished in 2019 by David Stewart contractors.
The report prepared by RIBA states: “One can feel the stress of everyday life start to recede the moment one enters the front garden of this charming three-storey, six-bed, detached family home in a conservation area.
“The new building repairs the Victorian street that had suffered bomb damage during World War Two and had housed a nondescript building built in the 1960s in the meantime.”
Although the house has a completely new skin, it is built around the existing 1960s two-storey house.
The report continues: “The architect’s solution in effect wraps the retained external walls in a thick warm coat to bring it up to contemporary standards.
“Many of the inner walls were also retained and skilfully integrated into the new.
“Where there are new additions, above and to the rear, they are made of lightweight structure, mostly exposed timber. The detailing is robust, exposed and attractive.”
The inside of the house is not entirely open plan.
Two rooms to the front, which could be used as a study and a snug, look out onto the front garden.
There are split-level living quarters with the sitting room stepping down to the single-storey kitchen and dining room at the back.
This looks out onto the patio and stunning rear garden.
The stairs are separated from the living room with a sliding door, rising up through the middle of the house to the bedrooms.
The report adds: “The composition of the elevations, having retained a lot of the original opening, is very pleasing, poetic and fluid.
“Combined with the pale grey colour of the brick cladding, the overall effect is respectful of its context and nicely restrained, communicating in a beautiful whisper.”
Architect Tristan Widfall said of the design: “The three-storey house wraps around an existing solid brick two-storey house, built in 1957 to replace the original bomb-damaged terraced house.
“The resulting six-bedroom ‘house-within-a-house’ utilises the existing structure, while reinstating the rhythm of the Victorian terrace in this sensitive conservation area.
“As well as providing an economical and sustainable solution to create a thermally-efficient home, the response resolves the problem of the incongruous and uninspiring 1950s house breaking up the pattern of the street.
MyLondon’s brilliant new newsletter The 12 is packed with news, views, features and opinion from across the city.
Every day we’ll send you a free email at around 12pm with 12 stories to keep you entertained, informed and uplifted. It’s the perfect lunchtime read.
The MyLondon team tells London stories for Londoners. Our 45 journalists cover all the news you need – from City Hall to your local streets.
Never miss a moment by signing up to The 12 newsletter here.
“The asymmetrical form of the new house draws references from the neighbouring terrace to which it was once attached, offering a contemporary addition that is sympathetic to its historic setting…
“Its warm grey brick complements the neighbourhood’s buff London stock brick, without trying to mimic the naturally aged material.”
The house is currently occupied by the homeowners who carried out the project and is not on the market.
MyLondon understands they are enjoying living in their new home!
Want more from MyLondon? Sign up to our daily newsletters for all the latest and greatest from across London here.
Do you have a story you think we should be covering? If so, please email [email protected]