Park Street, SE1
Park Street is an architecturally handsome Georgian house, part of a pair that look eastwards down Park Street, a traditional cobble stone street which runs down the south side of Borough Market. In this most picturesque of Central London locations, which has played a key role in many much-loved films (Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Bridget Jones, American Werewolf in London), it’s hard to imagine that a property of such architectural significance could be left to go to ruin. But the state of the building, when it was purchased by architect Gael Camu and her family, indicates that that was very much the case.
Formerly used by Southwark Council as housing, at the point of sale, both houses were derelict and on the English Heritage’s ‘At Risk’ register because of their condition. They would have required the Council to carry out significant amounts of restructuring to divide them into individual units – something that wouldn’t have been allowed because of their listed status. When the houses were auctioned in 2012 they were in very poor condition and held up by scaffolding. Working with the Council and local amenity groups, Gael Camu’s practice, Camu and Morrison, reintroduced a proper internal brick structure, replaced stud walls and door openings, redefined the interior layout and re-introduced many of the houses’ fine features. A badly rotting Regency balcony to the rear of each house was replaced with an enclosed ‘winter garden’ with a modest footprint, so as not to appear too prominent or out of context. The old cellars and the attics were reinvented as light and usable rooms.
The simple but highly acclaimed style of Georgian architecture and its generous proportions is celebrated at Park Street through Camu’s signature style. Exposed original flagstones and brickwork, skirting boards and window frames combine with new texture and colour. Camu has used materials such as cork, copper, marble, brass, stainless steel and coloured glass, combined with striking paint colours to create a welcoming environment. To the rear of the property, an unusually large garden is laid to lawn with fruit trees and established bushes that frame the fine views of the Shard and the skyline, reminding you that you are actually in the heart of the city.
Once completed, Camu definitely saw this labour of love as worthwhile and comments, “London has lost so much of its listed architecture over the years because a pathway to securing its future hasn’t been made available. With the loss of these buildings goes the history and stories behind them”.