>A039 House of Ideas

The comprehensive retrofit of the Grade II listed former House & Garden, House of Ideas 1957.

The dwelling is one of a group of three built by Span Developments in the late 1950s, in an attempt to reappraise the Georgian terrace. It was selected by the magazine, House & Garden, as their House of Ideas 1957, prominently featuring in the two consecutive issues of June and July.

Our interrogation has been guided by a straightforward question; ‘how might The House of Ideas differ now’. Extrapolating this we have needed to gauge the degree to which Span’s initial vision of adaptability conflicts with the tacit limitations posed when working with a Grade II listed host. This adaptability was seamlessly integrated into the dwelling via two masonry bookends, or spines, laterally reinforced by robust reinforced concrete beams. In theory, this arrangement enables the complete removal of internal walls and the extensive replacement or reconfiguration of the intricate ‘curtain’ façades.

Each of the three dwellings utilised a different heating source — we imagine as a way to gauge the market and better understand a prototype’s performance — with Two Foxes Dale being powered solely by electricity. Gas has been poorly retrofitted in previous years and will be removed as part of these works; as over sixty years later, we are now in a position to convincingly gather and store electricity within a renewed fabric — a fabric far more able to retain heat.

A project that seeks to deeply renew and protect, whilst interrogating what it means to live now, to conserve and push forward, and not just preserve in aspic.