22 Kensington Gardens Square, London

A Grade II listed residence returned to its former glory after years of neglect in central London, providing six high-end apartments.  Our work won a Highly Commended award at the regional IStructE awards in the category of Structural Heritage for Buildings.  

22 Kensington Gardens Square was originally built as a private residence by Henry de Bruno Austin in 1858. The Grade II listed property consists of two adjoining buildings spanning six floors, located on the western side of a private residents’ square. This once beautiful home gradually fell into disrepair, eventually being used as a distasteful, low-end hostel, suffering many years of neglect and little to no maintenance.

Fruition Properties appointed Hydrock to provide civil and structural engineering services, alongside architect, Hub Architects.

Working on listed buildings is always a privilege. Watching the layers of history being peeled back to reveal the original fabric and retaining, honing and (if necessary) replacing and matching the features that give a building its Grade II listed status is always a demanding process. It requires a good understanding of period construction and detail, and careful consideration of the requirements of architect and conservationist when addressing structural and building control issues.

The first job for Hydrock was to assess the nature and condition of the existing structure, requiring a detailed schedule of opening up works which were restricted by the need to retain numerous period features. This careful process meant that it took many weeks before the load path was fully identified, at which point a number of old partitioning walls were removed to restore the original, grand proportions of the rooms.

Where load paths were amended, structural solutions needed to account for the retention of elements such as cornices and window features, whilst meeting the client’s expectations of no downstand beams. A timber structure was used wherever possible, in keeping with the upper floors which were of predominantly loadbearing timber structure. This made it possible to retain and re-use the existing timber gutter detail.

The basement, which kept its original staircase, required waterproofing and insulation without any adjustment to the existing levels. Our solution involved designing a new slab, including careful design detailing at the party walls to avoid loading or altering existing footings.

The luxury properties required the highest level of building services, but space for service risers was at a premium. Hydrock identified that the 0.5m thick wall between the two original properties was an ideal location, and developed an ingenious methodology to form these cores without damaging ceiling cornices, using minimal coring which could cause damage by vibration.

The finished property now contains six beautiful apartments, some spanning two floors. The building has been returned back to its full former glory with all the benefits of modern technologies, design and detailing whilst honouring all the elements that awarded it its Grade II listed status.

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