8 Chepstow Villas, W11
The proposal is to build a yoga studio and office/artist’s studio in the back garden of a large, five storey, Victorian terraced house. The applicant and owner of this large house, who enjoys painting and yoga- requires extra secluded space away from her house into which she can retreat and enjoy quietude in the middle of London.
The garden is accessed via steps down from the house’s upper ground floor and also alternately accessed via a gateway from the Ledbury Mews behind the back garden. The proposed studio backs onto and adjoins the high back wall of the garden and is accessed via a door on the side- where there is an alley between 8 Ledbury Mews and the proposed studio. From this alley, access is retained between the house’s garden and Ledbury Mews- the alley is accessed from the garden via a wrought iron gate. There is a courtyard within the yoga and art studio that encloses a large tree (please see Tree Report) and whose footprint is dictated by the trees root ball diameter. This courtyard can be accessed via glass sliding doors from the art studio and yoga studio and also via wrought iron gates from the garden.
The L-shaped footprint of the studio(s) is constrained by three criteria: firstly and predominantly by the extent to which we can build around the perimeter of the root ball of the large tree that has a TPO. This has dictated the L-shaped plan around the circular perimeter extent - as has been set out by the tree specialist in her report, shown as a circle on the proposed plan and tree report. Secondly, the extent to which the studio intrudes into garden is constrained by the rear wall of the terrace of Ledbury Mews. So, the studio sits in-line with the rear of the terrace and does not go beyond this line. Thirdly the layout has been a result of the need for a side alley, in order to retain access onto the Mews at the back- from the back garden, along the sidewall of 8 Ledbury Mews.
Although the foot print of the studio(s) is restricted to be in-line with the rear of the Mews Terrace -there is also however, is a proposed colonnade that sits in front of the studio, which is comprised of a set of 6 reclaimed, antique, decorative columns and a covered roof to protect these columns. This colonnade will act as a visually lightweight threshold to the studio to help create the sense of separation and retreat from the garden and main house. This colonnade is an external work and will not be part of the studio. In the studios, the ceiling height is quite high at 2.7m- this so that it registers in relation to the height of the five storey main house. The back wall of the studio that encloses the art room, that faces the garden and encloses the courtyard has gates either side and is blank on the garden side- so that it acts as a neutral backdrop to the garden, against which a decorative bench is to be located. This threshold will act as a stage to the garden, and will be where people can sit in the sun and classical sculpture will be displayed. The studios’ internal outside courtyard shall act as a focus for the studio(s) and will, due to its orientation, offer light for the interiors. The interior has the yoga studio on the back North wall and the arts studio to the South going into the garden. The back (yoga) studio has a proposed truncated hipped skylight over the main matting; and will have a cloak/bike storage room off of this area. Between the yoga and artists studio there is a proposed bathroom for after session showers, dressing and the cleaning of artist’s materials. The proposal for the yoga studio includes a ceiling hung fireplace, which will require a flue and vent stack on the roof. This will be painted a dark colour to reduce its visibility.
The walls are to be built of second-hand and matching, London Stock brickwork that will probably need to be stained with an organic solution - so that they match exactly the soot-darkened London Stock bricks that enclose the studio and that also exist at the back of the main house and along the rear of Chepstow Villas’ terrace. The flat roof shall be covered in a living/planted system of sedum and/or wild flowers that will be drained to the mains or a nearby soak-away. The antique decorative columns shall either be of cast iron or stone depending on availability, ease of delivery, expense and/or assembly/construction. The sliding doors shall be aluminium, thinly framed, self-cleaning glass. The truncated, hipped skylight shall be clad in lead. The ground treatment on top of the root ball and inside the perimeter of these roots shall be covered by small gravel, pebbles as found in Japanese gardens.
The constraints of the site context, i.e. the tree, alley and adjacent terrace have limited what is possible in this proposal. The main design element of this proposal lies in the way that it sits modestly as a distinct entity in the back garden- rather like a pavilion. The decision not to build onto the sides- but to keep gates on either end and not build higher - were two decisions aimed at creating this effect yet also limiting the studio’s impact. The incorporation of the colonnade as a gateway on the other-hand, allows the owner to have both a threshold through which she could retreat and go “elsewhere” to turn her back on the house – but also it offers her (and neighbours) views onto a “stage-like” presence. This will add character to the back garden- that a simply blank faced wall would not- this studio is modest yet has character... In conclusion there are many small delightful elements that will help to create a magical walled garden here, a little Narnia in Notting Hill- into which visitors and the owner can retreat. Such elements, including: a planted roof, a decorative colonnade, two decorative cast iron gateways, a walled garden, a hat–like pyramidal skylight and the display of classical sculpture- will offer delight to visitors. This is something of a combination of contemporary design where inside the courtyard there will be wide open sliding aluminium doors offering South light- but also this is mixed with more traditional Victorian Classicism; as seen in the colonnade and decorative columns, gates and sculpture. Though this studio is small and modest it will be both in-keeping and yet also act as a little delightful addition to what is grand house, grand garden and grand terrace that would normally overwhelm any addition. But this studio will hold its own here and be part of the “family” of the street and it will not simply be an anonymous add-on dropped in. This studio will be something that fits and retains its own identity and offer much quietude in the middle of London.