Narrow House

Subtle changes to the section of this Covent Garden building bring natural light flooding into the newly created volumes

FORMstudio has completed a remarkable residential scheme on a pencil-thin site in the heart of Covent Garden.

An innovative spatial approach has transformed an unremarkable building, creating dramatic double-height volumes. The coherence of the design is reinforced by a high quality palette of materials, testament to the practice's rigorous attention to detail. 

To view high resolution images of the project please click here


The narrow, deep plan of this tall terraced late 19th-century building was ill-suited to its previous use as offices,
with its centrally located lift and stair core, subdividing the floor plates into small inflexible spaces. However, this
configuration was ideally suited to the creation of a distinctive residential space, with naturally-lit rooms of domestic scale located to the front and rear, and support spaces located inboard around the retained central stairs and lift. A change of use was therefore recommended to our developer client and, contrary to local planning policy, planning consent was granted for a luxurious four-bedroom house.

The ‘heart’ of the scheme is undoubtedly the soaring 6m high double-height kitchen/dining space opening onto a newly created ground floor courtyard. An entry courtyard recessed behind a decorative metal screen echoes the proportions of a traditional shopfront and fits well within the Dutch-gabled brick front elevation. Storage spaces on the lower ground floor have been given new life as a state-of-the art cinema and gym. Sophisticated systems throughout control lighting, AV, heating/air con and blinds via hand-held tablets.

The top part of the building has also been reconfigured - the original hipped roof has been replaced in order to create an additional split-level studio floor - with terraces front and rear.

Fastidious attention to detailing, together with a fire-engineered approach to layout (removing the necessity for
lobbies), has created a sequence of calm and coherent interior volumes with a seamless spatial flow between the six floors of accommodation.

We enjoyed the challenge of this project and our client is delighted with the sequence of generous, light-filled volumes we have created.
— Malcolm Crayton, Director


FORMstudio *
Furniture & Soft furnishings
Elizabeth Bowman Ltd.
Landscaping & planting
Quantity Surveyors
PT Projects
M&E Consultant
Milieu Consult
Structural Engineer
Price & Myers
Planning Consultant
Washbourne Field Planning
Main Contractor: 3 Interior Contracts Ltd.
Floor area
Approx. 436 m2 (4,690 sq.ft.)

* previously Form Design Architecture

Notes to Editors

FORMstudio aims to create places that can be inhabited and experienced by people in a natural and instinctive way. Enjoyable places with a tranquil sense of simplicity, which create a supportive and uplifting backdrop for life.

Individual solutions are developed for our clients which are an intelligent, inventive and sustainable response to the complex matrix of issues that shapes each project. Solutions with a lucidity and apparent simplicity which belie their underlying complexity. Listening, analysis, discussion and clarification are at the heart of an inclusive approach that recognises the fact that some of the best ideas are generated in the space between people rather than by individuals. 

Studying together, and later teaching, at The Bartlett (UCL), directors Malcolm Crayton & Jeremy Lingard first recognised the strengths of combining their shared enthusiasms and complementary skill sets in a collaborative design approach driven and tested by discussion. An approach that has been honed over the years and is at the heart of the practice’s working method today. 

Supported by talented staff including three Associates, who have added further core technical, energy use and design expertise to the practice, the directors maintain a direct involvement in the development and evolution of every project. Investing in people and celebrating diversity, FORMstudio aims to engage with and draw out the particular individual strengths of its staff, developing experience and knowledge base through practice and ideas sharing.