Open House Festival

8a Belsize Court Garages

residence, architectural practice, online

Sanya Polescuk Architects, 2012

8a Belsize Court Garages, NW3 5AJ

Originally a late 19C coachman's living quarters and stable, this mews house combines an award-winning architect's studio and spacious light-filled maisonette after a 2-phase carbon-reducing retrofit.

Getting there


Belsize Park, Swiss Cottage


Hampstead Heath


168, 268, 46

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Accessibility notes


What you can expect

The building has two floors with limited seating on each. The flat has carpets so guests will be kindly asked to remove their shoes.


Live over Work: A Carbon-Reducing Retrofit

Originally a Victorian live-work coach-and-horses stables with hayloft and coachman's quarters above. This 19th-century mews house is now home to an award-winning architects' studio, a local community land trust and a 4-bedroom upper maisonette rented as an HMO normally closed to the public. The mix of activities within plays an active role in the lives of the local community members.

The two-stage retrofit began on the ground floor, where the architects' studio and a registered local community land trust are located. Having suffered from previous domestic conversions into dark, cramped cellular spaces, the ground floor has been re-opened into a single horse-shoe-shaped space. The design reveals the original Victorian ironworks, wall tiles, timber panelling, cobblestones, etc.

The second stage of the retrofit was the upper maisonette. In addition to the 4 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms on the 1st floor there is an open-plan living/kitchen/dining space above. By locating the shared living space on the top floor, all occupants can enjoy the abundance of natural daylight and dual aspect fresh air provided by the rooflights and dormers.

The main idea behind the project was to return the building to its originally intended use, providing a place to live and work. Leading the design decisions throughout the built fabric, the priority was to retain the original Victorian features while making as many carbon-reducing and energy-saving improvements as possible (working towards Code of Sustainable Building, Code Level 4):
• 'Wrap up Warm!' upgrading all external fabric with a combination of PIR and wood-fibre insulation, while ensuring to always ventilate the existing;
• MVHR units installed in the upper maisonette;
• New Histoglass double glazing fitted into original timber window sashes;
• Triple-glazed units fitted into dormer windows and rooflights;
• Water-saving and energy-efficient fittings (A* or better);
• Solar thermal installation on the roof providing much of the hot water for the maisonette.

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