© Grid Architects
© Grid Architects
© Grid Architects

Chelsea Galleries

Redeveloping two adjoining buildings on London’s King’s Road posed a number of significant engineering challenges. The result is the deployment of innovative and complex structural solutions that produced a more sustainable alternative to demolition and reconstruction, while also being sympathetic to the conservation of a prominent area.

Chenil House is a site of historical importance, formerly the Chenil Galleries and the hub of Chelsea’s artistic community during the early 20th century. It comprises two adjoining properties, 181 King’s Road and its distinctive neighbour the Dutch Gable building. With poor internal layouts and ad hoc extensions to the rear, they were not suited for straightforward refurbishment. Extensive remodelling was required to deliver a mixed-use development that meets the demands of today’s market.

Located in a conservation area, a major task was advising client CIT Group on the best way to achieve the floor areas and efficiencies required, while retaining as much of the existing building envelope as possible.

The outcome was that while most of the structures on the site were demolished, the north and east façades were retained. The mansard roof of number 181 was also kept in place while demolition and reconstruction took place underneath.

These activities required complex temporary works, designed to limit deflections of the structural elements and prevent cracking of the building’s fabric.

The Dutch Gable, built in the Queen Anne revival style during the 1880s, was originally set back 4 m from the façade of its neighbour. To provide a continuous street frontage, while also adding valuable additional internal space, the gable end was moved forward during a complex operation devised by AKT II.

The gable end was clamped by a series of temporary elements, raised using hydraulic jacks and skids placed underneath. The structure was then gently slid forwards using horizontal jacks, before being secured in position with a new primary structural frame. ‘Façade retention’ became ‘façade transportation’, the entire process successfully completed without any damage to the gable.

A new reinforced concrete frame was constructed to the rear of the original building, accommodating onsite parking plus office space. Meanwhile, the intervention within the original building involved erecting a steel frame to support the new floors. It was built off the existing foundations wherever possible to minimise additional groundworks.

Remodelling and refurbishment of two adjacent structures on King’s Road, Chelsea

London, UK
CIT Group
Rolfe Judd
£ 7.5 million

  • 2012 IStructE Structural Award