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Location: Brighton, East Sussex

Work carried-out: Combining the basement flat with the ground floor flat to form a comfortable modern home within the constraints of the historic building

Project description: 14 Sussex Square comprises a Grade 1 Listed Building forming part of the formal Architectural set piece of Sussex Square located within the Kemptown Conservation area. The facade was constructed around 1825-1827 with individual developers constructing the dwellings behind. At a later date the property was subdivided into flats. At the commencement of this project the property comprised 6 individual flats.

The clients’ brief was to merge the separate basement flat which originally would have been kitchens and below stairs facilities with the Ground Floor flat to form a comfortable modern home within the constraints of the historic building fabric, the Grade 1 Listing and the clients’ desire for modern living.

The Conservation Officer was keen to retain as many historic features as possible. Within the Basement and the rear of the Ground Floor, very few features had survived the various alterations to the property, apart from some of the basic room shapes, a couple of original sash windows and the remnants of an historic silver store. The Conservation Officer accepted that reinstating as an Edwardian pastiche would be neither appropriate nor acceptable to our clients.

Modern partitioning and suspended ceilings were removed and the historic room layout has been recreated wherever possible but given over to contemporary uses. Extensive damp had impacted the front and rear extremities and needed to be remediated with to make these spaces once again useable. The front cellarage became a Utility Room and the rear cellar as a Steam Room. A UPVC conservatory has been replaced with a Dining Room, sympathetic to the properties exterior whilst following the modern crisp interior theme. The original flagged Basement floor was long gone and the clients’ wish for sustainable underfloor heating throughout the Basement lead to the entire area being excavated to provide a suitably insulated base. The staircase was reinstated in its original position, but with a modern twist to distinguish between the historic and new. Meeting current Building Regulations required fire separation between the Basement and Ground Floor. Site access presented its own issues with occupants of the upper flats requiring the communal areas to be operational at all times and the principal access having to be over the roofs of garaging at the rear not owned or controlled by our clients.

These buildings have been adapted over the years into smaller units often in very unsympathetic ways. The former unified grand glory can seldom be recreated and so the challenge is to adapt them in ways that will respectfully acknowledge their past whilst responsibly considering the new challenges of issues like sustainability and the opportunities of new technology. This was our aim here which we think has achieved its goal.

Contractor: Jurial Construction Ltd , Worthing

 

Awards

2017 Sussex Heritage Trust Award

Small Scale Residential

Winner

“A long-term project to restore, reinstate and improve substantial classic period elements of the building and common parts.  Close attention to detail and establishment of essential relationships with the specific and wider community, have contributed to success.”– Sussex Heritage Trust Judges