We visit Emrys Architects’ masterful transformation of a canalside London house
Most of London’s handsome townhouses have gone through many different lives; often originally built as majestic, several-storeys high single family houses, but then subdivided into apartments, shops and offices as times and need changed in the ever-evolving British capital. This also pretty much sums up the story of a canalside property that Emrys Architects recently completely transformed from a neglected and fragmented old building, including retail and flats, into two generous and contemporary homes.
Canal House, as its name suggests, sits right on one of London’s key waterways, Regents Canal, in north London. When new owners acquired three floors of a four-storey town house with a view to renovate, and their upstairs neighbours swiftly followed suit, appointing the same architects, Emrys found themselves in the fortunate position of having to redesign the whole structure; which helped them to address both structural and design issues in a consistent and holistic way.
The project involved the reimagining of an existing four storey townhouse on Regents Canal. Photography: Alan Williams
A key priority was allowing plenty of light into the building, and especially the fairly dark basement. This was achieved by placing large glazed openings in key areas – a strip window that overlooks the lower ground floor, a shopfront style facade towards the street, and glass doors that open onto balconies towards the canal. Thecarefully chosen opacity and placement of the glass ensured the owners’ privacy was not compromised.
Inside, working with often narrow and awkward spaces, the architects used intelligent spatial arrangement and divisions such as sliding partitions to make the most of the available room. Now, the design reads as a coherent whole, contemporary and warm, featuring bespoke joinery and exposed ceilings. An open-plan living space on the first floor looks out towards the water, celebrating the house’s picturesque positioning and characteristic London views. §