Weiss Architecture Studio

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Portsea Mews

Portsea Mews, originally named Fredrick Mews, dates back to 1824 and is an excellent example of an original working mews. It was built to serve the grand houses of Connaught Square by housing their horses and carriages. ‘A Mews’, at the time of their inception, was purely a group of service streets and the mews isolated them visually. Shakespeare uses the words ‘to mew up’ to mean confine, in The Taming of the Shrew. A narrow alleyway inserted through a terrace of larger houses, further disguised their existence from the more formal Georgian street plan.

The Church Commissioners own Portsea Mews and the focus of The Estate has been to promote renovation rather than rebuild, and this can be seen in the renovated shopfronts and buildings of Connaught Village which surrounds Portsea Mews, much of which is also owned by The Estate.

At Portsea Mews, the intention is to create a first-rate, mixed-use refurbishment, echoing the mew’s heritage and to add further vitality and interest to this vibrant neighbourhood, with its eclectic mix of independent retailers, cafes and restaurants.

Chapman Architects were commissioned to develop proposals for the refurbishment of the buildings within the mews, to very high quality and wherever possible, to retain or repair the existing fabric. The external facades and historic features are to be protected and renovated. The mews is a cobbled cul-de sac and from the main street, it is difficult to gain a full perspective of the buildings, which highlights their original ‘secondary’ importance. The mews buildings are a simple two storey design, with wide timber coach doors incorporating a fanlight and an upper floor hayloft, with winch doors with some adaptations made when carriages were replaced by cars.

The development proposes an additional storey at roof level, along with refurbishment at ground and first floor. The development will offer Grade A office accommodation, as well as 1-bedroomed ground floor accessible flats, and first floor 1 and 2 bedroomed flats, some of which incorporate private roof terraces.

Our client has encouraged us to develop proposals that are of the highest design and material quality to ensure that they are both attractive to new tenants, preserve the buildings for the future, and are complimentary to the Conservation Area surrounding the mews. The location of the site presents a number of opportunities to enhance the local area through extended employment and to improve access both within the site, and out to the wider area.

The site is part of the Church Commissioners Hyde Park Estate Conservation Area. The Commissioners exist to support the work and mission of the Church of England for future generations and The Hyde Park Estate is part of the investment fund which the Church Commissioners manage in a responsible and ethical way, using the money to contribute towards the cost of charitable projects. The Church Commissioners take their role as stewards of the historic built environment very seriously and are committed to maintaining and enhancing its rich and varied heritage.

The proposal will retain the existing facades and details that make the mews unique. Original casement windows and doors, brick work and cast-iron detailing, as well as the cobbled street will be retained for future generations to enjoy.

Architectural Visualisation by Arko.