Open House Festival 2023

Posted on 16/8/2023

Live over Work: Visit a carbon-reducing retrofit in Belsize 

Sanya Polescuk Architects are opening their offices, with living spaces above, as part of this year’s Open House Festival. If you are able to drop by, then the address is 8 Belsize Court Garages NW3 5AJ and tour dates/timings will be confirmed in August at The festival runs 6 to 17 September.

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. 

The main idea behind the project was to return the building to its originally intended use i.e. provide a place to live and work. As important 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).

Come and meet the architects who work in the office on the ground floor and listen to some interesting facts about the building, go through the development phases with more detail, and have a sneak peek into the archives with samples. The tour will not only reveal secrets about architectural practice but also about an energy-efficient historic house which has retained its unique character.

In Camden borough, there are 22 Festival entries this year and, near to Belsize, the Isokon Building is opening. This Grade I listed 1934 residential block of flats was designed by the Canadian modernist architect Wells Coates for clients Jack and Molly Pritchard. Previous Newsletter articles have highlighted the historic nature of the building. An English Heritage blue plaque for Bauhaus masters Gropius, Breuer and Moholy-Nagy has been placed on the building.

Nearby and open will be the Hampstead Friends Meeting House, at 120 Heath Street, NW3 1DR. This is a listed Arts and Crafts freestyle building with plain interior and many charming original features, sympathetically modernised in 1991.

Full Festival details at The festival runs 6 to 17 September.