A Hampstead home by Groves Natcheva brings art deco into the 21st century
Dealing with a city’s existing fabric is an intrinsic part of the urban architect’s daily work and challenges. Groves Natcheva, a dynamic Kensington-based practice, knows this well. The firm has consistently created craft-based, sophisticated residences across the British capital, from mews renovations to new-build townhouses. So when it completed its latest residential offering – the redesign of a 20th-century home in Hampstead – its signature approach of confident, yet very refined design, was unmistakable.
While the original architect’s name was unknown, the team knew the house had a fascinating history, being the home of German actor Conrad Veidt who was forced to emigrate to London in 1933 to escape the rise of Nazism. Dark brick and patterned tiles, as well as the house’s fairly formal presence (with its rectangular forms being set back from the residential street), create a subtle art deco feel throughout.
The current client, a property development company, approached Adriana Natcheva and Murrey Groves in 2011 with the task to redesign the building to feel more open and also increase in size. The architects also needed to reconfigure the layout to suit 21st-century living.
The architects embraced the building’s inherent character. ‘We chose to engage with the existing building with a lightness of touch always, choosing to tell the story of the refurbishment within the fabric of the building. Great care was taken at the intersections between old and new,’ they say. Colours and materials were chosen to blend seamlessly with both parts of the house resulting in a consistent, well-balanced composition that hovers between Nordic simplicity and craft-based minimalism.
Of course there were also changes to be made. ‘Our client showed a desire for a greater connection to the garden and there was a need to bring the house up to modern standards of heating and insulation’, recall the architects. They also gave the building a new roof (clad in bronze and tile), new brickwork at places and new windows, which ‘sharpened the edges of the house’, they add.
The result? A thoroughly refreshed home, rich in detail and history and effortlessly mixing old and new.