Situated in London’s upscale Mayfair neighbourhood, this classic Georgian apartment by HASA Architects is a study in how to fold contemporary layers into the historic, letting them seamlessly co-exist.
Landing a spot among Mayfair’s exclusive eateries and places to stay, the owner of this first floor apartment in a five-story Georgian terrace requested a polite and polished renovation. But this wasn’t your regular apartment update. It required considered restoration in what was classified as a Grade II listed building, which falls under a banner “of special interest, warranting every effort to preserve it”.
Polite to the original character and polished with contemporary design, HASA Architects have designed two levels for refined living, that focuses on space and light with a series of sensitive insertions. Highlighted by a carefully selected material palette and exceptional attention to detail, this mezzanine apartment is now a distinguished member of the Mayfair crowd.
When we discuss heritage restoration, we often don’t delve into the special efforts involved. For this Grade II listed building, HASA Architects removed years of paint and restored the original mouldings and cornices, while removing stains from smoke damage and neglect in the existing marble details. So too did HASA repair and clean the timber, including the old timber flooring. Any trace of insensitive additions has been removed, as HASA Architects repaired the principal floor (‘piano nobile’) to reveal the timeless proportion and structure.
Taking on a building with such history, HASA Architects responded to the limitations by “taking cues from the fabric and layout to inform and enrich the design”. As the practice affirmed; “We wanted to create a new layer through a series of freestanding volumes that could be reversed with minimal alteration to the existing building fabric,” they said.
For the HASA Architects team, it was important that this mezzanine intervention didn’t dominate the space, which they ensured through the design’s minimal interventions such as the freestanding joinery and panelling. In this way, “The architectural details have been meticulously restored to reveal the quality of craftsmanship while the new layout allows the original proportions of these fine rooms to be experienced as intended.”
“The clever design dealt with the narrowness of the existing stairwell by extending entrances to the stairs at either end in plate steel resulting in a sculptural blade-like insertion.”
– HASA Architects
The new mezzanine floor spans a master bedroom, ensuite and dressing room. The staircase ‘anchors’ the mezzanine to the ground floor, while becoming what HASA Architects call the ‘dramatic centrepiece’ of the abode. Concealed behind a door, the master ensuite is a tribute to natural materials with a carved stone basin that moulds into the wall panelling. The dressing room is also hidden behind the secret door, lined in sycamore veneer.
The glue in this contemporary renovation and restoration is the choice of materials, finishes and lighting. Choices made on the colour and material palette have been deliberately pared-down, to create a ‘harmonious and soothing’ environment and let space and natural light sing. In particular, natural oak flooring, sycamore veneer panelling, Venetian plaster and Arabescato marble sew the permanent elegant atmosphere into the home.
Here at est we see the Arabescato marble island as the bonafide jewel of the home. The solid marble block gives ample space to cook but doesn’t interrupt the site lines with its chic, sharp and sculptural presence. Storage is incorporated in the same box fashion, set away from the walls and above the skirting, to let architectural details remain uninterrupted.
This Mayfair Apartment is all about the art of layering; that is, the layering of materials, colour, distances and junctions of the old and new. Emerging from HASA Architects’ meticulous design work is an apartment where the contemporary and historic communicate fluently, both visually and structurally.