Traditional Architecture Group
A Linked Society of the Royal Institute of British Architects

Subscribers Newsletter No. 25

14th January 2014

  • Green light for Stanhope Gate Architecture's classical
    Mayfair building

  • Vitalism and the Meaning of Art Nouveau: read the latest essay by Peter Kellow

  • New book by Robert Adam: Heritage and Culture

The latest issue of Building Design reported: "Green light for Stanhope Gate Architecture's classical Mayfair building". The article attracted a lot of comments. A fuller story is below. You can leave your comment here if you are a BD subscriber.

Apartments in Mayfair, London

Architects: Stanhope Gate Architecture, London

Project Team
Alireza Sagharchi     Principal
Simon Lilley             Associate Director
Ewa Pujszo              Project Associate
Roman Stuller       Architectural Assistant
Pawel Wiecek          Architectural Assistant
Water Colour by:     Chris Draper
CGI Images by :      Nabeel Shehadah
Clients: C Group Developments with  McLaren Property.
Project Manager and Cost Consultants : STACE  LLP
Structural Engineer: BWB Consultancy
Mechanical and Electrical Engineers: KUT Partnership
Interior Decoration:  Lawson Robb

The Project which has just received Planning consent form the City of Westminster and is due to start construction, is a new building in the traditional context of Mayfairresidential area of London and replaces a 1930’s apartment block. The original 1750’sbuilding that occupied the site was grander in scale and detail than its neighbours. In early discussion with Planning and Conservation authorities, it was agreed that the replacement building should be of similarly unique character, whilst continuing the tradition ofthe neighbouring Georgian context.
The contemporary Classical replacement building will be one of the few and the first to be built in Mayfair for decades and will integrate harmoniously with the neighbouring Georgian properties, whilst maintaining a unique identity as a Modern intervention enhancing the character of the Mayfair conservation area.

Site Context and History

The Mayfair conservation area is characterised by an orthogonal grid of urban blocks, which is orientated roughly north, south east, and west. The blocks are generally occupied at their perimeter by individual buildings, many of which are Georgian townhouses, forming continuous terraces that define the public streets and squares. Larger mansion blocks can be found towards Grosvenor Square, and the American Embassy occupies a single block to the south of the site.

The first building on the site was built in 1725 by Edward Sheppard who was an architect and plasterer and was described as a“Large, Noble and Magnificent Mansion with Stone Front…”.  In 1771,  Robert Adam was brought in to design a
complete rebuild ,however, it appears that the client a Elizabeth Weddell wasn’t happy
with what he produced and eventually it was Samuel Wyatt who was
commissioned to carry out the works which began in 1787.

The existing building Built in 1936 by Prestige & Co to designs by William Ewart Masters, the existing building was originally constructed as a large family dwelling. The property was later subdivided into smaller flats re-built at some time in the early 1960’s, possibly as a result of bomb damage, and later alterations were madein 1977.

Design Proposals

The scheme proposes the demolition of the existing building, and redevelopment of the site to provide a new, high quality sustainable building which makes a more positive contribution to the conservation area.

The new building will comprise three, high quality family sized residential dwellings with private amenity space. A contemporary classical replacement building is proposed, which will integrate harmoniously with the neighbouring Georgian properties, whilst maintaining a unique identity and enhancing the character of the conservation area.

The original building that occupied the site was grander in scale and detail than its neighbours. With a pedimented stone façade, and arcaded ground floor, the building possessed a unique identity, momentarily breaking the horizontal rhythm of the terrace.

In discussion with Westminster Planning and Conservation officers, it was agreed that the replacement building should be of similarly unique character, whilst continuing to integrate with the neighbouring buildings.

Several design options were considered, all of which had a centralised composition, but with varying numbers of window bays. It was generally felt that the three bay design was most appropriate within this context.

As the façade frontage is somewhat wider than normal for a three bay division, a narrower centralised volume has been defined by stepping the façade outward slightly toward the street.

Materials and Details

The façade will be constructed in traditional loadbearing masonry, using the highest quality natural Portland stone, laid with Lime mortar, fully coursed into backing brickwork. Stonework will be carefully detailed, with fine joints and weathering.
Stone details include a rusticated ground floor, projecting first floor balcony and corbels, window architraves and entablature, and an open pediment with acroteria, all of which have been carefully designed using classical methods of proportioning. Decorative metal balustrades will sit on the projecting balconies.

Vitalism and the Meaning of Art Nouveau

Read the latest essay by Peter Kellow for American Arts Quarterly online

Art Nouveau, as a style, is customarily thought of as having been consigned to one of history’s tightly locked boxes. In the case of Art Nouveau, it will undoubtedly be a beautiful, finely crafted, gilded box—but a box nevertheless. Art Nouveau architecture is not short of admirers, and people trek from far and wide to see its masterpieces. But they stare at the works, feeling them to be detached in time and history. We expect never to see their like fashioned again. However, the assessment of Art Nouveau, like that of any movement, is never static. We may have finally moved on from Nikolaus Pevsner’s judgment in 1936 that it was “a short but very significant fashion in decoration,” but still the feeling lingers .... Read More


New Book by Robert Adam


By Robert Adam
Produced for the Prince's Foundation for Building Community
Foreword by HRH The Prince of Wales. Sponsored by RW Armstrong and Walter Lilly.
First published in 2013
ISBN 9781906384067

Robert Adam discusses the role of architectural and urban heritage in modern society in two thought-provoking essays.  In Heritage and Culture he links heritage to tradition and puts it at the heart of the identity of the community, tracing the consequences of this conclusion to methodologies for maintaining heritage.  In Whose Heritage? he follows the argument to assert that heritage can only have meaning for particular communities and, controversially, that recent heritage is often conserved only for the community of heritage experts.  This book will be of value not only to those with an interest in heritage but also to anyone concerned with the relationship between communities and the built environment.  

Available to buy from Amazon