Lace House, Brighton, East Sussex
Contract value: £800k
Awards: Finalist of Housebuilder Awards 2018
Lace House was built in the late 19th Century. The buildings original purpose is unknown, but it was converted into a motorcar showroom in 1926 displaying many prestige brands like Rolls- Royce, Bentley, Bristol, Lagonda, Alvis, and Jowett. The building was subsequently converted to offices in 1973 and has remained in this use since. The office became redundant and permission was sought to convert the office space into residential units.
The building is located within the Valley Gardens conservation area of Brighton and is spread over 6 storeys, including a basement. The building stands 5 storeys tall above street level with the top floor occupying a mansard roof, an extension to the original mass of the building.
Lace House had become dilapidated and was in urgent need of extensive repair and renewal. The proposal was to convert the offices into 9 individual flats, including a 2 bedroom penthouse with balcony and a double storey 2 bed basement/ground floor flat. The other flats are a mixture of south/west and south/east facing flats.
One of the main challenges was using the basement level effectively as this was a very dark confined space hidden below street level. The basement/ground floor flat is a particular achievement as it benefits from renewed pavement lights and a large stairwell which brings much needed light into the basement. This flat has two bedrooms at ground floor level, a family sized bathroom and a further WC.
The other flats, especially the penthouse, benefit from amazing views over The Old Steine and Valley Gardens, with some flats getting views of the sea and Marine Parade. The location of Lace House is within close proximity to the seafront, pier and Brighton’s Laines.
Generally the building was kept as the existing form with the renovation of the external render, balcony and window guards. The portico roof and columns to the main entrance were skillfully recrafted to bring them back to their original forms. The cat sculpture on the north east corner of the building has become somewhat of a landmark for the building over the years. The 92 year old cat was somewhat eroded due to its age, but as part of the sensitive renovations the contractors commissioned Lewes based Sculptor Susie Hartley to mould a new version of the cat based on its remains and archive photographs. The cat will be returned to the exact spot it has been in since 1926 in line with the rest of the delicate renovation of the building. The original cat is to be located within the building lobby for the new owners to admire.