197 Kensington High Street (KHS) was conceived as a substantial, heavyweight building to anchor the end of a historic terrace on this small but prominent corner site, and replaces a dilapidated townhouse built in the 1820s, that was then extended with a single storey shop built on the front garden in the 1870s.
The new accommodation comprises of 4 floors of open plan space above ground, and these are set back at 3rd and 4th floors in response to the context, and to create external roof terraces. The incredibly narrow plot was a considerable challenge, as even the most tightly planned core would inevitably consume a large proportion of the floor plate.
Red brick was identified as the appropriate material choice due to the wealth of historic brick buildings in the conservation area to the south, and a loadbearing form of construction was chosen to give the building a solid, authentic quality.
A series of deep piers are positioned at regular intervals along the two street-facing facades, with a stepped profile that forms a shoulder to support the sculpted and pigmented pre-cast lintels. Windows at first and second floors are combined within a single masonry opening to give an elongated proportion and vertical emphasis.
To create additional texture and richness, bricks were laid in Flemish bond with lime mortar which has a more granular appearance than the cementitious equivalent. Lustrous, amber-brown glazed bricks were used to construct the piers at the ground floor of the building. Along with double width feature lintels, these form a clearly defined base that supports the upper floors, and provides visual interest at street level.
The articulation of the piers and the scalloped faces of the lintels combine to give depth and modulation to the facades, especially when viewed obliquely along the street. Looking upwards, the building meets the sky with an undulating line given by the scalloped copings at roof level.