Ashlar Court: Salvation Of A Modernist Architectural Treasure

The value of the new apartments at Ashlar Court in Hammersmith can be measured not just by the much-needed extra homes they represent, but by the refurbishment’s rescue of a Modernist gem.

Until award-winning Linden Homes secured the site for sensitive redevelopment, the Grade II listed brick building in Ravenscourt Gardens had lain empty for several years and faced an uncertain future.

Its significance is not just as a local landmark, but as a national example of design by one of the period’s ground-breaking architect firms, Burnet, Tait and Lorne – boasting a stunning array of classic 1930s-style features.

Ashlar Court was constructed in 1936 and opened in 1938 when it was built to house about 200 nurses working at the neighbouring Royal Masonic Hospital, which was itself opened in 1933 by King George V and for a while was the largest independent acute hospital in Europe.

Ashlar Court is a fine specimen of how International Modernism influenced British civic architecture of the 1930s. The building is of load-bearing masonry construction, punctuated by the regular spacing of the timber sliding sash windows. Steel windows, with their typically slender frames were also utilised; for the ‘winter gardens’ and the stair towers. Due to corrosion, some of these original steel windows are being remade by Crittall, the original manufacturers, adding to the authenticity of the new buildings look and feel.

Linden Homes is also making some further additions to the building under the guise of both masonry construction, built using handmade bricks in ‘monk’ bond, to match the existing brickwork and the introduction of contemporary ‘pavilions’ on the accommodation wings. These are clad in a pre-paginated copper giving the green ‘verdigrises’ colour, currently seen on areas of the existing roof. The introduction of large powder coated aluminium windows on these extremely stylish top floor apartments, ultimately give a light and airy feel.

The adjacent hospital finally closed in 2006 and Ashlar Court itself fell into use as a hostel until 2009. It has remained silent and unused since then, risking a descent into decay that would have blighted the leafy neighbourhood.

Its new life as high quality apartments marks a bright new start – but is really the final chapter in a preservation success story: in 1996 it gained Grade II listed status and in 1999 secured added protection from the Ravenscourt and Starch Green Conservation Area.

While the refurbished homes offer innovative layouts for stylish modern living, Linden Homes’ approach has been to prioritise the restoration of Ashlar Court’s unique character.

In the original building, decorative masonic plaques were affixed to the doors of each room, giving recognition of the sponsorship provided by the various Masonic Lodges around the country. Linden Homes has been permitted to remove these plaques; however they will be reinstated in strategic communal places around the building to commemorate this important history.

Similarly, the existing iconic brass clocks will be celebrated at Ashlar Court, following a meticulous refurbishment before they are reinstated in the building for visitors to see.

Among the listed features being retained are spectacular travertine and bronze fireplaces, walnut veneer panelling and woodblock floors. The ‘Terrazzo’ staircase will also be preserved along with its classically styled balustrades.

The revival continues outside, where beautifully landscaped private gardens (over the new basement car park, recently constructed) feature the original concrete fountain surround, which will be restored to its former glory as an impressive centrepiece.

Linden Homes South East technical director, Ian Curry, said: “Ashlar Court is a beautiful building with an authentic architectural pedigree, so it would have been a tragedy to see it stay empty and gradually decay.

“We’re very proud to have breathed new life into it with an array of unique homes that can offer a modern lifestyle while respecting and even enhancing the splendid design that surrounds them. It’s an eclectic collection of apartments that will become a real asset to the area.”

-ENDS-

For further information, contact Claire McCowan or Claire Bradley at Remarkable PR on 01962 893 893.

12 November 2013

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