Planning achieved for More House PBSA in Kensington
Studio Moren achieves planning for More House purpose-built student accommodation in Kensington, London
Planning has been granted for the refurbishment and extension of 19th century More House in Kensington, London, to provide contemporary purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA). The 38,000 sq ft building was vacant when bought by SAV Group, who specialise in refurbishing and repositioning complicated sites into income-generating residential properties. Situated at 51-55 Cromwell Road, close to the art and museum centre of London, More House is named after St Thomas More and has welcomed students between 1952 and 2020.
The sustainability credentials of the refurbishment forms a major part of Studio Moren’s design. Every effort has been made to retain as much of the existing structure of the building as possible – to limit the embodied carbon emissions of the project.
Located in the Queens Gate Conservation Area, the design team at Studio Moren collaborated closely with heritage consultant Montagu Evans to ensure the proposal remains in line with the character of the conservation area, whilst successfully reconfiguring the internal layout to provide as much student accommodation as possible within the constraints of the existing building envelope.
The design team has given careful consideration to the material selection to ensure a calm, neighbourly design proposal that sits in its context seamlessly. Studio Moren’s subtle interventions include a new mansard roof whose natural slate tile finishes reintegrates with the original design of the building and maintains the rhythm of the roofscape.
With discreet infill extensions to the rear and the restoration of hipped roofs adding space for internal mezzanines in the closet wings, additional communal areas and reconfigured bedroom spaces have also been created. The similarly successful change of use for the mews garage to a new ancillary area adds more useable space to the scheme.
Lightwells breathe new life into the lower accommodation of the building by maximising light ingress. The design of the lightwell is influenced by the art galleries and museums near More House. It is intended that sculptures will form the focal point of the lightwell – to create interesting yet calming spaces. Studio Moren envisions the student residents actively collaborating to inform the design of these sculptural centrepieces within the lightwell, creating a clear sense of unity and belonging as they get this unique opportunity to express themselves through the decoration and celebration of their new home.