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Elegant addition to a long-established local pub creating space for a stylish boutique apart-hotel

Location

Trafalgar Road SE10

Plot Type

Urban

Project Type

Extension, Property Conversion

Accomplishment

Application for 10-room apart-hotel

Services by Urbanist Architecture

RIBA 0-3

Collaborators

t16, RIDA

Challenge

In one way, you can say that nothing will happen here. You start with rooms above a pub… and end up with rooms above a pub. But in other ways, a great deal will change, as we will explain.

The pub is in Greenwich, just outside the historic centre but still on a street that’s full of character. The pub building itself dates from the 1930s, although there was already a drinking establishment on the site before that. Like many pubs, it had rooms for rent above but they weren’t in the best of shape.

Our clients, the new owners, wanted to add a storey and replace the tired rooms with an apart-hotel, taking advantage of the area’s appeal to foreign visitors and students.

Before & After

Solution

Before we began the design process, we did as much research as possible into the architectural history of the area and the site itself. We identified the best elements from both the 1930s and pre-1930s versions of the pub. Working from that, we included arches in the new mansard roof, while retaining the simple 1930s elegance on the first floor. For the ground floor, we added tiles, a reference back to the 1930s design but also more generally to the great tradition of tiled British pubs from late Victorian times onwards.

Meanwhile, on the planning front, the question was whether (technically) this amounted to a change of use. There’s been some confusion about apart-hotels, but as far as London policy is concerned, they are treated as a sub-category of hotels in the C1 use class. As the existing rooms were also classed as C1, that meant this wouldn’t formally amount to a change of use.

Nevertheless, in practice, this would be a transformation, with all the generously sized rooms having en-suite bathrooms and - for all but one - a kitchenette. Enough space for someone to live comfortably for one, two or three months while they do a summer course, or look for somewhere permanent to live in the capital, having just moved from elsewhere in the UK or abroad. One of the rooms is also fully accessible.

Externally, we think it creates a good bridge in scale between a large neighbour on one side and a smaller one on the other. It also revives a business that fits naturally in with the pub – and anything that keeps our pubs alive has to be a good thing.

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