Good Manners in Architecture:
the Conversion of 128 Albert Street
Architects CZWG were asked by the developers Linkline to convert and enlarge this building, adding two floors of residential accommodation at the top. Albert Street is in the Camden Town Conservation Area, so the architects were not free to raise the apparent height of the building. All the additional work above the original first storey pediments had to be added invisibly. This problem they solved most ingeniously.
The new design provided a basement and parking for 21 cars, one space for each of the residential flats and one disabled space for commercial use, all served by a new ramp at the south of the building. None of this affected the appearance of the building from the street. Additions above would be more difficult.
Section drawings show that the architects set the new 2nd floor back from the original facade, so that it is less than half the footprint of the building below. This made room for terraces behind the existing parapet on the two street elevations. Thus all that can be seen from street level are the original pediments, leaving the new flats completely hidden.
The third floor flats were set even further back, to sit out of sight in a sunken bowl. The terraces outside these top flats were each enclosed to about waist height on three sides within the roof slopes, so that all that could be seen from the street level would be people’s heads.
Finally, there was the problem of ensuring that light to the adjacent building was not blocked. The section drawing below shows how carefully this was arranged. The handrail to the second floor terrace was actually bent inwards so as not to interfere with the angles of light.
Section on CC Parallel to Albert Street
This shows the four floors, basement car park and
the angles of light to the adjacent building.