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Reinstating the Corner

2A1M Studio corner house sketch

The gradual adaptation of planned, formal streetscapes is something that divides opinion. Sometimes decades and centuries pass with barely any noticeable change; a bit of weathering here or there and newer cars parked outside, but the formal frontages crystallised in their original intention. Elsewhere, whether through design or chance, adaption and modification seem to be actively embraced. Either superficially or in a more architectural sense, life takes over and drawing board elevations become obscured in a riotous jungle of individual expressions.

Planning legislation is, in theory at least, the democratic resolution of this tension. The leash against which we all strain. Where we each stand on the priority of collective values against the importance of individual expression, says a lot about each of us as designers and citizens.

2A1M Studio have recently been appointed to renovate and extend a Victorian corner property, formerly a corner shop, in a pleasant part of East Bristol dominated by the familiar crumbling formality of bay windows, tiny front gardens and dressed stone detailing. The corner house immediately jumps out from the dominant typology, standing a metre forward of the building line on the principal façade with a hipped gable and distinctive chamfered corner that would have housed the original entrance.

The unusual building has a twin opposite and together they would have formed distinctive commercial gateposts at the entrance to the street. Proud and loud commercial frontages with plentiful produce and graphics on display.

2A1M Studio corner house photo

This is a recognisable street layout in Bristol and elsewhere. Unfortunately, the decline of the shops and their conversion into dwellings was often done in crude fashion, swathes of render and poor quality infill obliterating the finer details and resulting in hulking, lumpen masses with disproportionately small apertures, more akin to a pair of nightclub bouncers than a civic greeting.

2A1M Studio corner house hopes to reinstate some of the original civic impact and intent in our work on the property, at the same time as taking advantage internally of the generous building proportions and access to light along one of the long elevations to reinvigorate the interior.


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