I know just how tough it can be..
Renovating an old terraced house, trying to drag it kicking and screaming into the 21st century, is never easy – especially when you are on a budget.
The layout, the room sizes, the darkness, the damp… there are so many problems to fix and so many areas to modernise.
It is a complex problem, but as architects we are trained look at a project in a different way, to approach a problem from a different angle and to produce unexpected and often dramatic results.
This is exactly what architects SkedKM have done at Chimney Pot Park in Salford, Greater Manchester, in a project that will turn everything you think you know about terraced houses on its head.
The Extent of the Problem
Working alongside developer Urban Splash and Salford City Council, the architects have taken 349 run-down traditional ‘Coronation Street’ style Victorian terraced houses and converted them into multi-award winning contemporary homes.
The terraced houses are located in the Seedly & Langworthy areas of Salford. A part of town suffering from long term under investment and neglect. In 1999 the average house price in this area was just £8k per house and the streets in question were abandoned and scheduled for demolition.
Built in 1910, the two storey, ‘two-up / two-down’ red brick terraces were crumbling. The streets were ravaged by litter, crime and other anti-social behaviour, problems which were only intensified by the traditional open back alleys to the houses (more on this later).
A Creative Approach
Urban Splash were the only developer interested in taking on the site but had different ideas on how to revitalise the area. They wanted to retain and improve the existing houses and involve local people in the project.
They worked with ShedKM to imaginatively reconfigure the properties inside and out providing a new way of looking at terraced housing in the UK.
It seems simple, the best ideas always do.. but their solution was to turn the houses upside-down – literally!
Each house was totally remodelled internally, within the proportions of the existing terrace, relocating the bedrooms to the ground floor with the living spaces moved upstairs.
The Virtue of an Upside Down House
In addition to creating a much larger, open plan living space, the previously unused roof space was also opened up to provide a dramatic single volume at first floor, with the largest space in the house given over to the where the most time is spent.
By re-using the spaces between the backs of the houses – formally occupied by irregularly added outriggers, back yards and back alleys – the architects created a rear deck over covered parking. This allowed the living spaces to extended externally out to individual garden areas, whilst at the same time providing a communal social space for the whole neighbourhood.
Downstairs, two bedrooms and a family bathroom were carved out of the more easily sub-divided ground floor, with an innovative new lightwell to provide daylight and ventilation to the rear bedrooms.
The brick elevations of the existing terraced houses were retained, cleaned & repointed and the front doors and windows replaced, with the on-street parking controlled to provide a safe place for children to play.
There are some clever little design features too, like the pre-fabricated bathroom pod which includes a sunken bath with timber duck-boards on top to create multi-functional shower room.
Likewise ‘Chimney” rooflights – a modern interpretation of the traditional chimney stacks – flood the first floor and mezzanine spaces with light and ventilate the new kitchen areas.
A Different Way of Living
This project has proven that existing terraced housing can be remodelled to create high quality, modern homes, whilst at the same time retaining the character & integrity of the existing neighbourhood.
The previous problems with security, maintenance and ownership of the back alleys are solved by replacing them with the raised courtyard garden. This garden relates directly to the new living spaces, providing access to light, security & privacy, in addition to covered parking beneath – accessed from the end of the terraces.
However, for me the most dramatic aspect of this project are the living spaces. Moving them to the first floor creates a spacious and light experience, which is in stark contrast to the gloomy ground floor conditions of the former Victorian properties.
Back to Reality
Lets be honest..
These houses have been almost completely rebuilt with just the facades retained (though this is more to do with the UK’s complex VAT laws than the suitability of the existing houses).
We don’t usually have the luxury of starting from scratch like this, so what lessons can we learn from this project?
Well, the first lesson is about mind-set and how we look at our homes. Hopefully this project will help you to be able to think about the spaces in your home differently. Look at which areas get the most light or have the best views and consider prioritising the spaces that you spend the most time in.
I get it… not everyone wants or is able to live this way, but in my opinion there are a lot of benefits to an upside down house if you can make it work.
Generally speaking, for example, ground floor spaces are cooler and darker than first floor spaces (heat rises remember) and so it makes much more sense to use them as bedrooms.
Likewise, many terraced houses have loft spaces too small or too low to be converted, but which would add considerable drama to a first floor living volume like this.
Obviously, retrofitting existing homes like this is only feasible if the underlying structure is sound – seek advice from a structural engineer before doing anything like this – and it may be difficult to start building over your back yard!
However, there are so many terraced houses in the UK that have been neglected like this and many more that are simply dark, damp and gloomy. It is time we started looking differently at our terraced houses and about how we might revitalise them for the 21st Century.
Do you agree? Please let me know what you think in the comments box below.
Find out more about this project here
The Ultimate Terraced House Renovation Information Pack
In the meantime if you would like to know how to layout your house AND make sure that the building work goes as planned then you need to check out a our Terraced House Renovation Information Pack.
This information pack has been developed over the last 16 years in designing & managing peoples renovation projects.
Here are some of the things that are covered:
- Step-by-step, easy to follow instructions that show you how to remodel or reconfigure your terraced house so you can create a tonne of extra space WITHOUT needing planning permission
- How to AVOID BEING RIPPED OFF by builders during the work
- Several remodeled & reconfigured layouts so you can pick and choose what to do with your home
- How to create an AMAZING KITCHEN in your house
- Where to get some other work done to your home that will add a lot to the value of your property
- How to make sure and check that you are getting QUALITY WORKMANSHIP in your renovation
- How to put together a world class bathroom in your home
And this is just a sample!
This info will give you confidence when you deal with builders so you’re not taken for a fool or even worse ripped off.
So to find out more all you have to do is click the link below: