ARCH-angels: Open Up

ARCH-angels Architects improve the flow of a ground-floor flat in the West Hill Conservation Area


The client came to us looking to refurbish their bathroom and change the only access to the large rear garden. Their property is a ground- floor flat situated on Alexandra Villas, which is within the West Hill Conservation Area.

Alexandra Villas were built in the 1860s, situated in the West Hill Conservation Area of Brighton. The building itself has a beautiful exterior design. However, during conversion into flats this historic building became chopped up into a labyrinth of rooms which simply do not flow. In our client’s case, the only access to their garden was through the bathroom – a far from ideal situation. But with the high ceilings, central location and large garden, the clients were hesitant to leave. Therefore, the brief was to create a new access route to the garden from the existing flat and refurbish the bathroom completely.

ARCH-angels Architects suggested that the new access to the garden should be through the bedroom. We worked with the clients to create a design which would fit their needs and a home they felt comfortable in, enabling them to remain in the home they loved. A new, contemporary access platform and steps to the garden from the ground floor flat were proposed. We also proposed a replacement of the existing bedroom sash window with charming French doors, to open up the room, allow light to flood in and ,of course, give access to the new platform. This addition also provided the clients with the choice to retain the room as the bedroom or later convert it into the living room.

Although the building is not listed, discussions with the conservation officer at the local authority took place. Careful consideration was given to the design of the platform; a new, light-weight walkway and stairs in glass and steel was designed in order to have minimal impact on the existing building, and in particular the lower ground-floor flat. Due to the fact that the villa is located within a conservation area, we had to make sure that the exterior matched the rest of the building. Therefore, to block up the existing back door and replace it with a new window, we had to seal both the windows and put in opaque glass for privacy.

The alterations to the property included a complete refurbishment of the bathroom. Before the clients came to us, their bathroom provided them with the only entrance to their garden. They saw the opportunity to not only rid themselves of this awkward connection from inside to outside, but to also design and create a bathroom that reflects their style and needs. The outcome was a bespoke, contemporary room, comprised of sleek black tiling and the bold use of vibrant green. The contrast of the two colours against light coming in from the three windows provides a breath of fresh air into the once disappointing space.

“The result of the works was a far smoother flow within the property, allowing the clients to fully enjoy their home”

The result of the works was a far smoother flow within the property, as well as the creation of a style which better fit the clients’ personalities, allowing them to fully enjoy their home. Instead of having to move because their property was not meeting their needs, they were able to re-order the space and layout to realise their dream home.

Richard Zinzan and Nicola Thomas are founders of ARCH-angels Architects in Brighton, an approachable local practice specialising in environmentally conscious and cost-effective architecture. We work closely with you to maximise your space and provide beautiful integrated buildings.

Create your dream home: Contact ARCH-angels Architects Ltd
3 Dorset Place , Brighton BN2 1ST
01273 267 184 | | Twitter: @ArchAngelsBton