“A Remarkable Job” – The Richmond Society Commends Spring Terrace

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

With its numerous conservation areas protecting graceful Georgian terraces and iconic streetscapes, Richmond may seem an impossible area for contemporary architects. Thankfully, this couldn’t be further from the truth.

I’m a firm believer that freezing a property in time does not equal preservation. Homes are not museums; a classic building needs to be at its best today, not at its best a hundred or more years ago. Modern principles can not only complement but improve traditional design.

The Richmond Society shares this desire to protect Richmond’s character without becoming bogged down in the past. The Society was founded in 1957 in unified opposition to eyesore lamp posts penned to be erected around Richmond Green. They won, and since then have grown to a large and respected force dedicated to Richmond’s unique character and quality.

Their annual awards celebrate the past year of exemplary building work in the borough. Current and former members of the Society’s planning committee along with others with an interest in architecture personally visit each of the shortlisted sites then judge them against three criteria: design, quality and use.

I know full well how refined the Society’s eye for detail and quality is, which made our commendation at this year’s award a great honour. The winning build was Spring Terrace, a loving restoration and extension to a house that had fallen into terrible neglect in an otherwise beautiful 1830s terrace.

“I have seldom seen a building in a worse state,” said Charles Pineles, chairman of the planning committee. “As a building in its position and of the quality that it was, it needed very sensitive attention.

“And that’s precisely what it got… If you look at the way the new wing has been set back, the bonding, the use of brick, the proportion of the windows, the glazing bars. They really have done a remarkable job in not only bringing an entire building back from the dead, but so far as the townscape is concerned, they have made a pearl out of a pig’s ear.”

As special as Spring Terrace has become for Richmond, it’s even more special for our client, Chantal. She had always wanted to recreate her childhood home and saw potential in the site to finally realise her dream.

“You can feel the love and attention that’s been given to every inch of the house, it’s a wonderful place to live,” said Chantal. “DGA rescued and transformed it into the spacious, refreshing and elegant home that I’ve always wanted.”

We worked closely with the Richmond Society, Listed Building Officers and the Archaeological Society to create a sensitive renovation with a front façade that matched the existing structure and a modern extension that offered space laterally and below thanks to careful excavation.

Spring Terrace is one of our finest examples of combining contemporary and Georgian design into a cutting edge home that continues to evoke Richmond’s architectural heritage.

“It doesn’t mean conserve it in aspic,” said Charles when asked about his views on conservation. “If you conserve something in aspic, you kill it. It’s not that, it’s preserving the best part of it.”

I couldn’t agree more. I hope we will continue to work with the Richmond Society in the coming years to keep preserving the best parts of their truly special borough.

By John Dyer-Grimes