Cornwall Terrace was the first completed residential terrace overlooking Regent’s Park. Decimus Burton built it in the 1820s as part of John Nash’s Crown Estates master plan for Regent Street and Regent’s Park. The houses were severely damaged during the Blitz and were derelict for some time, but they were given Grade I heritage status and restored and converted into offices in the 1970s.
Before the 70s renovation, Italian anarchists squatted the buildings – we uncovered anarchist graffiti behind false partitions during the renovation work! As part of the 1970s conversion, the terrace’s rear extensions were demolished to make way for Cornwall Terrace Mews, a service street for the terrace’s new office buildings, whilst leaving the Regent’s Park palatial elevation untouched. In 2007, our client Oakmayne purchased the lease of The Crown Estate properties from REIT British Land.
I was brought in to deliver the construction drawings for the planning and listed building consent originally obtained by Paul Davis and Partners. Early on, it became clear that some of the original designs for converting the terrace into apartments were not viable: the ceiling heights varied greatly from floor to floor, and some mansard roofs had small windows and no views of the park. So we went back to get permission to redesign the conversion. We had to carefully assess what remained of the buildings’ original fabric and devise a strategy to preserve and restore it.
The client understood that delivering a high-quality residential product would require serious noise mitigation due to the levels of noise coming from the London Underground trains of nearby Baker Street Station. Therefore, we commissioned acoustic noise level surveys in every room, and with this data, we designed a noise attenuation system comparable to music studios. Where required, we built a “room within a room” with acoustic raised floors, ceilings, and walls inserted into the historic fabric of the buildings.
We worked closely with Westminster City Council, English Heritage (now Historic England), The Crown Estates Pavement Commission and Royal Parks to obtain all necessary planning and listed building consents. In addition, we designed service routes within the historic building shell that could provide the required services (comfort cooling and heating, plumbing, electric, and IT) that could be accessed and serviced and replaced in the future, thus ensuring the preservation of the original fabric.
We provided all the technical expertise and design coordination to create a basement swimming pool underneath one of the houses and lower the base slabs to increase the floor to ceiling heights of the lower ground floors.
We worked with several teams of specialist interior designers providing construction drawings, technical coordination, and design guidance within the context of a Grade I listed building. Cornwall Terrace achieved a record price for a terrace house in the UK and won two Evening Standard London Housing awards.